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John Lamb, Published March 17 2013

Review: Guest conductor leads entertainingly educational night

FARGO – Darryl One is making up for missed time.

The conductor didn’t come to classical music until he was in college, giving him a different appreciation for the music than others.

The guest conductor, trying out for the open musical director job with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, led the group through an entertainingly educational night of music Saturday at Festival Concert Hall at North Dakota State University. A second show is at 2 today.

One kicked off with one of his favorites, Ron Nelson’s 1955 “Savannah River Holiday Overture,” a piece that shows its age, as at times it sounds like a period Disney soundtrack. What really drove it home, however, were the percussionists brought in for a bigger bang as the piece moved from a sweeping opening to a more romantic middle.

After a thunderous ending, the crowd erupted with howls and applause, all of which served as a deservedly warm welcome for guest soloist Bella Hristova.

The violinist gave an affecting, sensitive performance of Max Bruch’s “Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra,” evoking the gypsy roots in the piece.

Hristova returned for a well-deserved encore, delivering an unexpected highlight, Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Sarabande in D Minor.”

Hristova wasn’t the only star of the night. Oboe player Jennifer Peterson shined on Gioachino Rossini’s “Overture to ‘La Scala di Seta’ ” with a series of quick articulations that then worked through the woodwinds. And cellist Greg Hamilton was singled out for his fine playing in the finale, Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.”

The MVP for that piece, however, was One. Having previously expressed his interest in deconstructing music to make sense of it, the conductor verbally broke down the 14 variations, explaining the significance of movements and having the symphony sample bits the audience should listen for.

One’s direction to the audience was as important as his direction to the performers in giving both a greater appreciation of the music and the night.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533