Last night’s Phoenix Symphony concert featured harpist Yolanda Kondonassis in Albert Ginatera’s Concerto for Harp & Orchestra, Opus 25. How often does one get to hear a harp soloist with a full symphony? This interesting piece has dance-like features with strong contributions from percussion. In fact, at one point the harpist responds to the percussion by knocking on the harp’s sound board. The soloist’s unique and impressive harp, 75.5 inches high by 39.75 inches wide, is a 47-string concert grand pedal harp designed by Salzedo for Lyon & Healy. Kondonassis graced us with an encore of a short piece written by, I believe, Carlos Salzedo which again displayed the range of sounds a harp is capable of producing. Kondonassis is on the faculty at Oberlin where the former Phoenix Symphony Music Director and Conductor Michael Christie received a degree. Phoenix is much warmer right now than Oberlin, Ohio.

Guest conductor JoAnn Falletta, Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, also escaped brutal winter weather by visiting Phoenix, the Valley of the Sun. This small but dynamic maestro did not need a score for Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67. The orchestra responded with gusto in performing this familiar piece. Falletta, I leaned, is also a virtuoso guitar and mandolin player. She is an expressive force atop the podium.

The evening’s performance started with George Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No.1 in A Major, Opus 11. This work in the folk dance tradition starts with oboes and clarinets. There is even a viola solo. Our seats in the sixth row were centered with the conductor’s podium.We enjoyed another great evening of music with the Phoenix Symphony.

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