The atypical Midwest monsoon season may have prevented the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra from its annual performance at Devou Park yesterday, but it did not douse the enthusiasm of the crowd which moved to Notre Dame Academy, also in Covington, KY, for an evening of “Dvorak: Living in America.”
Continuing his tradition, KSO conductor and founder J. R. Cassidy put together a beautifully cohesive program which began with the debut of a musical version of “The Pledge of Allegiance,” written by KSO member Steven Hinnenkamp. The KSO Chorale added vocal enhancement to the piece.
The rest of the program featured music by Antonin Dvorak. The “Slavonic Dance” was followed by “The American Flag.” In the second work, Michael Young and Andrew Jones performed vocal solos in addition to the accompaniment of the KSO Chorale.
Remember the name, “Benjamin Fryxell.” The 18-year old cellist with ear-catching talent gave a glimpse of his enviable future last evening. His was the final segment prior to intermission. A local musician, Benjamin will be going to Julliard shortly.1
While the sports world debates whether race car drivers qualify as athletes, the young Fryxell could start a similar debate in the music world. He played the finale of Dvorak’s “Concerto for ‘Cello and Orchestra” with a level of energy normally seen only in stadiums. His invigorating performance showcased the “dazzling technique”1 he is already known for. A team player all the way, he did not allow his concentration to make him self-absorbed. He strained backward while playing complex sequences to listen to Mari Thomas’2 violin as the two artists complemented each other through a challenging part. Benjamin seemed intent on ensuring that his music blended with hers note by note.
After such an impressive first half, the remainder of a concert can easily be anti-climactic. Nevertheless, Conductor Cassidy led his orchestra to a wonderful rendition of “From the New World.”3 It brought the concert to a wonderful conclusion which personified the melting pot our nation has been for 237 years!
Thank you: to Antonin Dvorak for being a part of our proud past, to J.R. Cassidy for the determined spirit of the present and to Benjamin Fryxell for an optimistic musical future!
1 – Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Summer 2013 program
2 – Mari Thomas, acting concertmistress for the KSO
3 – Dvorak was commissioned to compose this during the time he was director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York City (1892-1895), concert notes to the audience by J.R. Cassidy