The most delightful reason for braving frigid temps, snow and ice last weekend was the enchanting father-son piano/trumpet duo Rich and Brandon Ridenour, along with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra players in top form - all under zestful conducting by Stuart Chafetz.
From the opening lure of Gershwin's "Strike Up the Band" - delivered with the feel of a parade approaching, entering and moving along - to the expansive closing Ferde Grofé orchestration of "Rhapsody in Blue," it was two hours of non-stop WOW delivered as total fun.
Listening to multiple Rich Ridenour arrangements of standards reminded me of what Matisse achieved as a painter - making complexity attainable so you can feel and touch the story, not only see or hear.
Mancini's "Pink Panther" even more stealthily crept up with richer undertones and a luscious solo by violinist Philip Palermo, along with smile-inducing piccolo trumpet licks by Brandon. "Simple Gifts" touchingly textured with "Amazing Grace" featured Brandon on the melodious flugelhorn.
And Brandon Ridenour, no laggard in the arranging game, gifted Beethoven's "Pathetique" with singerly richness. And then they booth let loose with a fast pitch spin on Euphemia Allen's Variations on Chopsticks.
Then there were the off-the-wall moments - complete with red piano, Schroeder popped off the funny pages onto the ISO stage, and Rich and Brandon demonstrated a derring-do "invention" that humanized player pianos,
Yes, it's a wonderful life when you're in the company of people who unstintingly share what they love to do. Don't miss another Chafetz/Ridenour program when they return to the ISO.