Symphony in the park 

Four and a half stars
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Garfield Park; July 15

An overflow Garfield Park audience cheered Sean Newhouse’s debut as associate conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for a Russian-composers’ concert. Newhouse is an animated conductor whose body language, facial expressions and overall enthusiasm for the work at hand connect as much with the audience as with the ISO players. For his debut, Newhouse chose a program to showcase solo players and highlight sections. Describing the seven pieces, Newhouse demonstrated a sense of humor along with a passion for “fun Russian compositions of different types.” Two works had their ISO premiere: Summer Night in Madrid by Mikhail Glinka and Prelude to Khovanschina, Mussorgsky’s unfinished opera. Glinka’s sprightly and lyrical Overture to Rusian and Ludmila opened the evening, followed by his nostalgic walking tour of Madrid. Newhouse shared an incident from his “earlier life” as a violinist with Rachmaninoff’s expansively romantic Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14. Our links with Fantasia were kindled with Mussorgsky’s swirling, imagery-rich A Night on Bare Mountain. The program closed with the richly layered imagery of Stravinsky’s “Berceuse and Finale” from The Firebird and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34. A standing ovation was rewarded with an encore of “Russian Sailor’s Dance.” Neither cicadas nor flyover planes nor barking dogs or whimpering children broke the ISO’s concentration on a picture-perfect evening in Indy’s oldest park.

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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