Stepping foot on The Field at Stanley Marketplace marked the first live performance for the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra since September, and they didn’t skip a beat. The two-night outdoor concert series, Spring at Stanley, closed out the 2020–21 season, May 26 & 27.
The open field at Stanley Marketplace was decorated with colorful blankets, great food, and the most essential picnic accessory: barrels of laughter.
Attendee Suzann Lupton is no stranger to DPO performances, but she relished in the freshness and optimism of this concert.
“For this to be outdoors, it feels like the beginning of the season, the end of the pandemic and the beginning of life,” Lupton stated.
The audience relaxed in their camping chairs for the start of the concert as the orchestra’s tuning notes rose above the chatter and an anticipatory quiet fell on the crowd.
The orchestra opened with Rossini’s comical composition, The Barber at Seville. The piece began with a soft swell, evolving into a playful bounce of the strings. The audience responded in rhythmic nodding to the familiar melody and delighted in applause at the final note.
Lawrence Golan, DPO Music Director and conductor of the evening’s concert, stepped forward to address the audience after the first selection. He welcomed the next piece, Felix Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides Overture, also known as Fingal’s Cave, which is evocative of island travel. The slow build at the start of the piece leading to short staccato notes was punctuated by listeners’ feet tapping happily on the soft grass.
The next piece, Elegía Andina by Gabriela Lena Frank, was composed in 2000. Golan explained this is very notable, “With classical music, anything written in the last 100 years is modern.”
The piece transported the audience to the peak of an Andes mountain. Breezes of wind on The Field blew at just the right moments to provide an immersive experience for the audience but offered a different adventure for the orchestra.
“When it’s windy all the musicians have to clip the music onto the stand with clothespins. And then every time they have to turn the page— and that’s like 50 times each piece—they have to redo the clothespins, and they just don’t have time to do so while they are playing,” Golan said.
Although the wind proved to be their biggest challenge, they continued to blow the crowd away, if you will. Golan noted that the applause throughout the concert marked their success in overcoming it.
Rebecca Moritzky, DPO’s principal harpist, emerged to perform as the musicians prepared for the grand finale. Attendees seemed moved by her mastery of Baroque Flamenco.
Audience member Geri Badler expressed her amazement with Moritzky’s interlude.
“When she came out with the harp before they started performing Beethoven, to me, that sounded like flamenco. I’ve never seen a harp played like that before,” Badler said.
The time came for the performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the 36-minute, four-movement piece. The orchestra adeptly led the audience through the expressive symphonic masterpiece, closing with the triumphant march of the final movement, Allegro Con Brio.
The audience erupted in applause, rising to their feet for a standing ovation. Joy flooded the stage and hung over the crowd.
“Everything was perfect, intimate and up close and personal,” Badler declared.
The concert catalyzed many in the audience’s desire to see more live concerts. When asked what we could expect in the future, Golan was excited to talk about the DPO’s full 2021–22 Season, which begins October 8 at the orchestra’s home venue, Central Presbyterian Church.
“I’m really looking forward to the opera performance, L’elisir d’amore, with Central City Opera and Beethoven no. 9… the pinnacle of music–the greatest piece of music ever created on planet earth!” said Golan.