Webber Show Was Seductive
Wednesday February 23, 2005
Special to The Daily News
The Andrew Lloyd Webber concert last Saturday at the Port theatre was all about heart. In fact, it was one big lovely valentine from the Vancouver Island Symphony to the community, which reciprocated in turn by a sold-out house and standing ovations.
Detractors of Lloyd Webber argue that he only has one or two great songs for each musical. But, when you put all of those highlights together - along with a few gems by other composers - you have a totally seductive evening.
Guest soloist Michael Hope, on a return visit from Calgary, spoke of his enthusiasm for sharing with an audience some of the greatest songs he has ever known, songs that embody human emotions, written by composers who have redefined musical theatre.
From the gentle Whistle Down the Wind lullaby to the desperate passion of The Last Night of the World, from Miss Saigon, all of the songs dealt with some aspect of love.
Some were joyous, like Love Changes Everything, from Aspects of Love. Some were sad, like Bring Him Home, from Les Misérables (Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenberg). Baritone Michael Hope's mellifluous range luxuriated in all the shades of emotion.
Along with the variety of tempo and mood, the selections featured an interesting variety of arrangements. An unusual aural effect was achieved by embedding one set of percussions on the right side behind the strings. Throughout the program a fine balance was maintained between the vocalist and the full orchestra with all its depth and colour.
A particular stand-out was The Prayer from The Quest for Camelot - a passionate anti-war song, starting with the pure, unaccompanied human voice rising in intensity, to be joined by the orchestra with punctuated chromatic scales for a powerful finale.
When the formal program ended with the mystery and wonder of The Music of the Night, from Phantom of the Opera, one could only be impressed by the huge gift of unforgettable songs Sir Andrew has added to our lives.