Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra wrapped up a celebratory 15th anniversary season with Music Sets the Scene, Saturday’s spring concert finale at Town Hall. Featuring selections from classic films, the scene was also set for the return of acclaimed pianist Sara Davis Buechner, who joined PSSO for a standing-ovation performance of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F.
“Those of you who attended our spring 2013 concert know how incredibly lucky we are to have a world-class soloist of Sara’s caliber partner with a community group like PSSO,” said PSSO music director and conductor Alan Shen, who founded PSSO in 1999. “The chemistry between Sara and the orchestra was so relaxed and fun, I knew we had to invite Sara back to perform an even more substantial work.”
Well known for his banter with the audience, Shen took a turn at the piano for a quick play of the MGM theme music in a nod to the evening’s program, and later paid tribute to long-time PSSO board members Stu Heller, Gina DiLembo, and Cyndi Wilder retiring after many years of service, and original musicians Scott Selfon, concertmaster Daniel Shen, and Kevin Tao who have been performing with the orchestra since 1999, adding a special thanks to PSSO’s cadre of dedicated volunteers. PSSO board president Luc Purdy acknowledged (Alan) Shen’s dedication to providing the community with an engaging, accessible, and fun classical music experience. Keeping with PSSO’s ongoing commitment to diversity, Shen also welcomed senior patrons in honor of Older Americans Month; earlier in the season, PSSO honored veterans and active military personnel, and celebrated its young patrons during Music in Our Schools Month.
In addition to Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, featured in Vincente Minnelli’s An American in Paris and the Gershwin biopic Rhapsody in Blue, Saturday’s program included Rossini’s Overture to La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie), heard in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, and Debussy’s La Mer, from the soundtracks for The Adventures of Milo & Otis, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, and thought to have influenced John Williams’ score for Jaws.
After an encore featuring Novelette and Ivory Tips, orchestra members joined PSSO patrons for an anniversary reception. PSSO’s 16th season kicks off on Saturday, November 22 at Town Hall, with winter and spring concerts slated for February 28 and May 16, 2015. Season tickets on sale soon at psso.org.
Photos: Tatiana Gill