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QUO Sets Uplifting New DiMari ‘Ascension’ Beside Beethoven & Tchaikovsky Classics
by Bruce-Michael Gelbert      |   follow us...

   
photos by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
QUO (inset: QUO Artistic Director Julie Desbordes, composer Jessica DiMari & QUO Assistant Conductor Ian Shafer)
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For its holiday presentation, on December 17 at Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea, the Queer Urban Orchestra (QUO), under the Artistic Direction of Julie Desbordes, programmed a novelty, “Ascension” by Brooklyn’s own Jessica DiMari, as well as 19th century classics by Ludwig van Beethoven and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
DiMari explained, in a pre-concert talk, that in writing “Ascension,” she found it “cathartic” to create a musical composition about “overcoming obstacles” in life. “Ascension,” commissioned by QUO, proved uplifting, conveying hope, spirit, and growing confidence, and making use of the orchestra’s full sonority at its climax. QUO Assistant Conductor Ian Shafer led the orchestra in realizing the work’s glowing freshness.
The musicians played as one as they began Beethoven’s Symphony Number Three, “Eroica” (Heroic, 1805), which preceded “Ascension.” QUO and conductor Desbordes mined the first movement, and statement of its principal theme, later subject to variation, for the fullest measures of power and grandeur. The second movement funeral march was solemn dignity itself, in its depiction of tragedy. The third movement scherzo was fast and furious, not at all the light-hearted joke its designation suggests, and in the fourth, the Classical, almost Mozartian variations reached their triumphant conclusion.
QUO’s trio of selections from Tchaikovsky’s popular ballet “The Nutcracker” (1892), following “Ascension” and guided by Desbordes, were a lusty and vibrant Trepak; airy and graceful Dance of the Mirlitons or Reed Flutes; and sweeping Waltz of the Flowers, with a striking harp solo by Kathryn Sloat near its beginning.
For the timely encore, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” Maestra and many instrumentalists donned red, or green, Santa Claus caps; one wore a “Happy New Year” tiara-with-feather; and a trumpeter sported a horse head for the final whinny.
QUO returns to the church, at 296 Ninth Avenue at 28th Street, on February 24 at 8 pm, for woodwind player Brian Shaw’s new, QUO Concerto Competition-winning saxophone concerto, and music by Sarah Hopkins and Florence Price. Visit www.queerurbanorchestra.org for more details.



 

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