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Symphony on the Prairie: Beethoven's 7th 

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click to enlarge Time for Three
  • Time for Three

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's resident ensemble Time For Three was hands-down the audience favorite as violinists Zach De Pue and Nick Kendall and double bass player Ranaan Meyer, with guest percussionist Matt Scarano, cavorted through Chris Brubeck’s atmospheric Travels in Time for Three. Commissioned by a consortium of eight orchestras, this concerto in four movements is described as “a thrilling ride” featuring jazz, country, funk, gospel and classical genres specifically for Tf3’s jamming style with a symphony orchestra.

The neatly integrated parts introduce different locations: "Thematic Ride," with its flirty wink-wink nod-nod jazzy train tempos, opens to "Irish Folk in Odd Times," which layers jig and reel rhythms on top of traditional fast-paced high-stepping scenes. This leads into "Suspended Bliss," inviting Meyer to wrap himself within an extended floating séance. "Clouseau’s Mardi Gras, 'Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler,'" opens with a nod to Mancini, launches into Cajun country and bids farewell with a flourish. Brubeck has stated he wants the musicians on stage “to have a really good time.” Indeed they do, and so do we in the seats on a lovely summer evening.

However, not to be overlooked was Teddy Abrams’ richly nuanced conducting of Samuel Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major. Barber’s orchestral reputation was established with this 1931 composition, which alludes to the 1777 play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan and captures the dynamics of intrigue driving this comedy of manners. The piece conjures up drawing room scenes of whispers behind fans and frenzied exits and entrances with its shifts in mood and tempo.

Beethoven wrote Symphony No. 7 between 1811 and 1812. It conjures up the feel of journeys and landscapes through its vast harmonic spaces and energy, particularly in the first movement, which sets the scene for visualizations in the following three movements. Throughout, the work requires close section playing, which ISO players delivered as a fine ensemble.

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