California Philharmonic “Beethoven, Bernstein and Bolero” Review – Spectacular Ending for Happy Audience

The Disney Concert Hall hosted California Philharmonic’s “Beethoven, Bernstein and Bolero” show as the last part of their “Cool Music, Hot Spot” series, bringing some unforgettable musical themes to a delighted crowd.

The lobby was packed with the biggest crowd yet as everyone wanted to be inside as part of the series’ final show.

Conductor Victor Vener entered the stage as casual as can be, with his jacket draped over his shoulder and a shrug about his cadence.  He seemed so comfortable in this last performance than an air of cool breezed over the room.

Conductor Victor Vener

There wasn’t as much talk, right to the music.  And the music, indeed.  After a very brief East-side/West-side anecdote, we’re thrown into the chaotic, rhythmic fervor of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” for a varied mix, including “I Feel Pretty”, “Maria”, and America”.

It’s a delight to watch the audience stir along as the classic melodies move through their body.  Heads nod, shoulders pump and sway, toe-tapping.

Vigorous Voices

But the true fun hasn’t even begun.  Four tremendous vocalists are about to be introduced.  Each with a very different vibe.  Each bringing a different energy.

Dastoor and Wilson

First out is Kalil Wilson. With a smooth voice and graceful presence he delights the crowd.  Shy at first, but warms up as he allows his voice to take over.

My Maria!

Next out are Suzanna Guzman and Khori Dastoor.  What a perfect combination.  Guzman has the feel of a seasoned pro.  She saunters across the stage like she owns it, every movement is a lesson in control.  Her voice is near-perfect.

Khori Dastoor may be the best part of your day.  Los Angeles needs more of her.  Sexy, charming, with a voice that hits every note and leaves you begging for more.  Throughout the afternoon she takes her cues, pleads to you, begs of you, sizzles, sloshes and smiles.  

Khori Dastoor

Her emotion is deep and you want to sip from it like a fine wine.  And you unwaveringly follow her through the entire journey.  When it’s all said and done, you’re ready to walk with her again.  This is the magic that is Ms. Dastoor.

Lastly, but certainly not least is Cedric Berry.  He has a regal feel about him. Much like Guzman, he strides across the stage.  He has a powerhouse voice that doesn’t say no.  He controls you, he owns you.  And you like it.

Wilson leads us through “Something’s Coming” with a smooth elegance.  Clean and easy.  Guzman and Dastoor team up for “A Boy Like That”.  Their timing and chemistry perfect as they play off each other, holding dramatic beats for one another.  

Going and Going

Ravel’s “Bolero” is more about endurance than maybe anything else.  Veteran Vener builds up anticipation to the point where the audience is holding its collective breath by thirteen minutes in, hoping the over-worked percussion can handle it.

Suzanna Guzman

After the intermission we return to Bernstein with his 1956 “Candide”.  For “Glitter and Be Gay” the lovely Khori Dastoor re-appears.  Her boozing, sultry character delights the crowd as she shimmies and shakes in a new gown and causes several women seated near the front to jolt up.  Her voice brings show-stopping moments as it simply escalates higher and higher, and reaches to the back rows.  She is a dazzler.

“Make Our Garden Grow” is everything you want from an ensemble musical piece.  It combines the power of each vocalist with a warmth from the orchestra.  Truly a work to behold.  It makes you wish it never ended.

The last piece of the day was Beethoven’s Symphony Number 9, “Ode to Joy”.  If you’ve never experience Vener conducting his orchestra, Berry, Dastoor, Guzman, and Wilson all with a 100-person choir singing along.  Well, gosh, you’re missing out.

When you have all of this talent in one room, it’s always over too soon.  To make it worse, this was the last set of the series.  No more.  The next time you see Vener will be this winter in Pasadena.  The next time you see Dastoor will be in LA Splash’s interview with her coming shortly.

Victor Vener and the California Philharmonic next seen
at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, CA.
November 8, 2008
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