Micheal Hope Vocalist

  "a wonderful voice"


"RDSO puts on a Winning Show"

Red Deer Advocate
Monday January 30, 2006


Someone was whistling New York, New York as he left the Red Deer College Arts Centre Sunday night. That's exactly how a night of well-chosen and marvelously executed show tunes can affect you.

Sunday's Red Deer Symphony Orchestra concert was called Andrew Lloyd Webber and Friends, indicating that while most of the selections were the work of the British composer, not all of them were. New York, New York, for example, is by the musical team of Fred Ebb and John Kander.

But no matter who wrote it, every song on the program was a winner. That was thanks to the combination of Calgary baritone Michael Hope and the RDSO, under musical director Claude Lapalme. As pointed out by Hope during the evening, more than half the orchestrations for the songs he performed just happened to have been written by the maestro himself. Though Hope has sung this program with several other orchestras, this was the first time with Lapalme and the RDSO.

Besides being having a wonderful voice, Hope is quite the charmer. As audience members were settling into their seats at the beginning of the evening, Hope walked around introducing himself to them.

Anyone who attends RDSO performances regularly knows that while the music is excellent, there is always a quality of informality to the evening, thanks largely to Lapalme's easy going style. Add to that Hope's demeanour and it was twice as informal as usual on Sunday, with Hope occasionally cracking consciously lame jokes between songs.

Not that there weren't serious moments. Of course there were. One came when he introduced a song sung by one of the young protagonists in The Beautiful Game, a musical set just when the fighting in Northern Ireland was getting going, in the late 60s and early 70s. The young man sings about his reluctance to take part in a war about hate. Hope sang a considerable portion of the very thought-provoking song unaccompanied - before the orchestra joined in.

The show kicked off with the orchestra alone playing the super dramatic, dare we say, melodramatic, Overture: Phantom of the Opera. It's certainly stirring and attention-grabbing. That set the tone for the rest of the evening, which incidentally, officially ended with Phantom selections. But then, of course, came Hope's well-deserved standing ovation, which resulted in the audience being rewarded with the aforementioned New York, New York and You Raise Me Up. The latter song, music by Rolf Lovland and lyrics by Brendan Graham, although relatively new, sounds like a traditional Irish folk tune. The combination of Hope singing and the orchestra, sounding so very Irish, was quite electrifying.

The program was jam-packed with memorable tunes, all interpreted with great feeling by Hope.
They included the haunting You Must Love Me, from Evita, The Last Night of the World, from Miss Saigon, Love Changes Everything, from Aspects of Love, Macavity the Mystery Cat from Cats, and All I Ask of You, from Phantom.

Hope is quite the showman, doing quite a sizzling routine to accompany Too Darn Hot, from Kiss Me Kate, by Cole Porter and having a lot of fun with Macavity the Mystery Cat.

He also paid tribute to various musicians in the orchestra as well as to Lapalme and the RDSO as a whole. It should be mentioned that this might be the first time a drum kit and an electric bass guitar have made an appearance among the more typical instruments like violin or oboe.

The show definitely lived up to expectations - it's been sold out for three months, and more than 400 people paid to attend the afternoon's rehearsal. It's not the first time Hope has sung with the RDSO, so many of the audience would have known in advance that Hope plus Webber plus Lapalme was going to add up to a winner.

They were right.



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