There was a time when one would never think of dressing casually when attending a symphonic concert. And pity the poor audience member who applauded between movements, because in either case, he or she might have had to suffer the glare of disapproving patrons.
As evidenced by those who wore jeans and even some wearing shorts, and those who applauded every chance they got at Saturday’s Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra “Symphonic Hits” concert at the Hilbert Circle Theatre, it is clear that times are changing. And depending on whom you talk to, that is either a good thing or a bad thing.
It’s good for performing arts organizations, desperate for new audiences, to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere; and perhaps it’s bad for those who believe that rigid social mores and conventions should be retained, to protect the privileged status quo.
In the ISO’s case, these “Symphonic Hits” concerts are geared toward making classical music more accessible by featuring popular works at affordable ticket prices, offering a casual pre-concert chat led by musicians about the program and including a post-concert wine tasting and cash bar in the lobby where audience members can mingle with musicians. Proof that the ISO’s marketing strategy is working was the diverse audience present at this concert, which included many young people who were highly responsive and engaged.
Featuring concertmaster and violinist Zach DePue and principal viola player Michael Isaac Strauss as soloists, the orchestra performed Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E-flat Major” during the first part of the concert, Taking center stage during the second half of the concert was DePue, who played and led the orchestra in Antonio Lucio Vivaldi’s superlative work, “The Four Seasons.”
Composed in 1779, “Sinfonia Concertante,” consisting of three movements, is considered one of Mozart’s most popular works. DePue and Strauss performed splendidly during their solo parts, alternating with each other and with the orchestra. The exquisite sounds produced by all were passionately expressive, ravishing in their beauty and powerful in their ability to connect with the listener.
DePue, a member of the ISO’s in-residence chamber group, Time For Three, also plays with a chamber group called the Landmark Trio, along with pianist Marianne Williams Tobias and ISO cellist Geoffrey Lapin. He also performs with DePue Brothers Band, a bluegrass and classical music group that includes his three violin-playing brothers and others.
Performing Vivaldi’s best-known and most distinctive work, DePue further demonstrated amazing versatility and technique in this piece from the Baroque era, capturing sounds associated with each season (birds in spring, lightning in summer, a harvest celebration in the fall, winds during winter), as portrayed in the piece’s four movements.
Commanding the stage with star-power presence, DePue mesmerized the appreciative crowd with his riveting execution and vivid interpretation of this music masterpiece, conceived by its composer to spark the imagination and inspire the soul.
Afterward, DePue was rewarded for his efforts with sustained cheers and applause by an audience won over by his charm and artistry. In its ongoing effort to win converts to the concert hall, the ISO has no better weapon than the personable and youthful DePue, a musician with his own unique style and personality who helps make the whole experience seem more user-friendly, and perhaps a bit more laid-back.
For tickets and information about the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, call the box office at (317) 639-4300 or visit www.indianapolissymphony.org.