Opening night always garners excitement, but the one on Thursday (Sept. 17) could be considered a tour de force: the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestrahad returned after 10 years to kick off its 25th anniversary season at the recently restored Orpheum Theater. (The theater had its own debut party on Aug. 27.)
The celebration started earlier at a special three-course dinner in the Roosevelt Hotel’s Blue Room. Afterward, guests moved across the
street to the theater, joining others just going to the concert, many of whom paused to take photos in front of the theater’s beautiful façade.
Once inside, concertgoers wandered around taking in the restoration, as it was the first time for many to see it. Upon taking their seats, the lights dimmed and a video about the LPO was shown: narrated by Angela Hill, who attended the concert with her husband, Dr. Irwin Marcus, it also featured Patti Adams, who plays the piccolo for the LPO and is a founding member, talking about the history of the orchestra, and Hannah Yim, violinist and LPO Assistant Concertmaster, who spoke about the importance of this full-time musician-governed and collaboratively operated orchestra and its dedication of its members to keep the orchestra open after Hurricane Katrina.
After the video, the full orchestra entered, receiving the first standing-ovation of the night. The orchestra played the national anthem before orchestra PresidentJohn Reeks greeted the crowd, saying, “Tonight, we can all come home to the Orpheum,” acknowledging, as well, that this was the first audience in the Orpheum since it was damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Reeks also introduced founding members, who are also current orchestra members, including himself, Patti Adams, Jim Atwood, Rachel Van Voorhees Kirschman, David Rosen, Bruce Owen and Carole Shand.
Under the direction of LPO music director Carlos Miguel Prieto, the orchestra performed Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection,” with Susannah Biller, soprano; Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; and the combined NOVA Masterworks and Loyola University Chorale. The riveting performance had the audience on their feet immediately after the last note; giving the performers a three-minute standing ovation.
Seen on this historic night were LPO Executive Director James Boydwith wife, Misook Yunand son, William Boyd; LPO Board President Hugh Long; Prieto’s parents, Isabel and Carlos Prieto; Gayle and Tom Benson; Phyllis Taylor; Charlotte Bollinger; Valerie Besthoff; Ana Gershanik;Orpheum Theater’s Mary and Roland von Kurnatowski,and Kim and Dr. Eric George, as well as the venue’s general manager Kristin Shannon; Beth and Austin Lavin; Tiffany Adler and Jep Epstein; Charlotte and Bob Lewis; Karen Wood; Mark Romig and David Briggs; Mignon Faget; Marilyn Dittman and Paul Leaman; Judy Oudt, Gia Rabito, Nancy and Dr. Stephen Hales, John Pearce, and many more who filled almost every seat in the theater.
The LPO has an encore performance on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum. Tickets are still available at LPOMusic.com.