Monday, June 25, 2007

About Town: addendum

This weekend's "About Town" segment was dominated by a band fronted by a certain local blogger.

But the weekend in Billings also saw the annual Symphony in the Park, a decades-long tradition in Billings. An estimated crowd of 10,000 was there, and great fun it was.

Let's be clear -- Symphony in the Park is not first and foremost about the music. It's sort of like a big backyard party, with the conductor being a kind of DJ for the afternoon. The enterprising bring picnic baskets, and the Symphony makes money selling burgers and fresh-squeezed lemonade to the rest of us. People stroll about and chat with each other (at least on the periphery, where things are most festive.)

Kids are throwing balls and frisbees on the hill in back. Pioneer Park is off limits to dogs (one of the great injustices of life,) otherwise they would be there enjoying things, too. There was even a song for them in the 50s medley: "Nothin' but a Hound Dog."

The highlight of the performance was a great performance of "Sing, Sing, Sing" and Matt Devitt's incredible drumming and drum solo. In general, the first part of the performance was strong -- Aaron Copland's "Hoedown" (one of Copland's few consistently enjoyable pieces) set the tone.

What didn't work very well was integrating the groups Montana Tunesmith and Yellowstone into the performance. Whether there was a problem with the singers getting feedback from onstage monitors or whether it had something to do with the outdoor venue wasn't clear. It's not that you can't make pop music and guitars mix with the symphony -- it's a long-time staple of Pops concerts. It just didn't work that particular Sunday afternoon as well as one might have hoped.

But again, this is the sort of performance where there are attempts to have something for everyone -- and if you don't enjoy a particular piece, there's always the hamburger stand or strolling neighbors to chat with.

Yet another pleasant evening of music in Billings.

No comments: