Anne Akiko Meyers Review- Ludovic Morlot conducts the Grant Park Orchestra

The Pritzker Pavilion in Grant Park, Chicago, photo by Grittani Creative LTD
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On July 3rd, 2024, in a concert to be repeated July 5th, 2024, bookending the 4th of July holiday and the Independence Day Salute, the Grant Park Orchestra, led by French Conductor Ludovic Morlot, Music Director of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, with Special Guest violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, performed at The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park, Chicago. The first half of the concert was comprised of new art music; in the second half the orchestra performed Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74, 1893, known as Pathétique.

Angelica Negrón’s Color Shape Transmission, 2022, is a multi-layered 10-minute piece dominated by strings and percussion, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony as part of a project “loosely inspired by” the work of Jean Sibelius. This piece, which debuted with this evening’s conductor, Ludovic Morlot, former Seattle music director at the podium, was motivated, according to Negrón, by a small grouping of sounds and on electronic music modalities. The work has a mesmerizing, mystical, shimmering quality- partly caused by wrapping vibraphone tubes in tinfoil- producing an overall emotional response, deep and yet joyful.

Anne Akiko Meyers at Grant Park, Chicago; Ludovic Morlot conducting

Fandango, 2021, by Arturo Márquez, was written for Meyers, a monumentally talented classical violinist with lifetime use of the 1741 Vieuxtemps Guarneri “del Gesu”, which gleamed in her arms under the numerous spotlights projecting from the stage ceiling. In fact, Meyers was nominated for a Grammy for her live recording of this piece with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic. She’s a dramatic, driven, exciting performer, bowing with strong flourish, turning to the Orchestra, dancing with the “del Gesu”, semi-skipping in place to the alternatively haughty and playful motifs of the concerto’s 3 dance-inspired movements. 

The first movement, styled Folia Tropical, espouses 2 very different rhythmical themes. The second, Plegaria, is a hot, emotive and complicated chaconne. The final Fandanguito is a complex elaboration of an historic dance, freely drawn yet tightly rhythmic. Márquez has commented about Fandango, composed during the rigors of the Pandemic, “My experience with this work during this period has been intense and highly emotional, but I have to mention that I have preserved my 7 capital principles: tonality, modality, melody, rhythm, imaginary folk tradition, harmony and orchestral color”.

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers at The Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago, July 3, 2024
Anne Akiko Meyers at The Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago, July 3, 2024

After the intermission, Morlot drew from the GPO a sturdy rendering of the great 6th Symphony; there was none of the typical unfortunate A-Z of overblown emotions.

 The orchestra sailed through the development sections, was drawn back in recapitulations, was highly controlled in the tempo changes. Adding subtle shades of chiaroscuro in the opening Adagio, similarly bringing forth sensitive degrees of color in the final Adagio, Morlot and the GPO filled the bandshell and the Park with tightly restrained emotional nuance.

The Grant Park Music Festival, begun in the Great Depression, has brought much more than fine free concerts into Chicago’s great parks. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Festival itself, the 20th anniversary of the Millenium Park site as the Festival’s home, and the 25th season with Maestro Carlos Kalmar leading the GPO and Chorus. 

The Festival partners with world-class artists, local music schools, performing arts organizations and various city parks, and runs a young-artist program as well as a day camp for Chicago kids.

For information on all the great programming of The Grant Park Music Festival, go to 

www.grantparkmusicfestival.com

All photos by Grittani Creative LTD

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