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Federal Way Symphony beats Seattle Symphony | Letters
I’m no music critic, but have pretty good knowledge of what’s good and bad, and the Federal Way Symphony’s performance of Mahler’s “Titan” Symphony on April 1 was just that: Titan.
Interestingly, I attended the Seattle Symphony’s performance of the same piece a week later, April 7 at Benaroya Hall. Comparing orchestras probably is not fair to either, but I have to admit I enjoyed the Federal Way performance more than Seattle’s, principally because the Federal Way orchestra played with soul, real feeling — while, as good they are, I had the feeling that to the Seattle players, it was another day at the office.
When I first read the Federal Way ensemble was to perform the “Titan,” I was a bit skeptical that a community orchestra could do it justice. It’s a gigantic and complex composition requiring a large orchestra. Justice they did. While Maestro Brian Davenport may have imported a few key players and tweaked the score a bit to accommodate that to which he had to work, the overall effect was terrific. I particularly was impressed with the French horn section (all eight of them). As a former horn player, I know how difficult some of the passages are, and your guys and gals were every bit as equal to Seattle’s.
Even more impressive was the work of Maestro Davenport, who conducted the entire symphony without a score — an incredible feat, something Gerard Schwarz, the Seattle Orchestra Laureate Conductor, chose not to do. Bravo, Brian.
Not to nitpick, but I wish Davenport had chosen not to interrupt the mood by splitting the four movements with an intermission, but that is a relative minor infraction.
As I was leaving St. Luke’s church, I thanked a passing orchestra member for the performance. She turned and said with feeling, “It’s a beautiful piece,” which indeed it is, but seldom expressed by typical orchestra professionals. But then the Federal Way Symphony is not typical.
Your community deserves a venue fitting a fine orchestra.
George Krusz, Olympia