Monday, May 24, 2010

UPDATED: Contemporary Youth Orchestra: State of Independence (with Jon Anderson of YES)

(The program for this evening's concert may be found at the bottom of this post)

This concert was an impulse buy. The name "Contemporary Youth Orchestra" didn't ring any bells when I saw it pop up on the Severance Hall schedule, but not having any other plans for this warm Monday evening I figured there was nothing to loose.

My relative lack of enthusiasm* for the two "headliner" concerts in The Cleveland Orchestra's Celebrity Series combined with my "Who's that?" reaction both "Jon Anderson" and "YES" left me questioning my sanity after purchasing the ticket. Wow. Quite simply this was the type of concert that it was impossible not to enjoy; not to have fun; or not to get in the groove. While the music was played with all due precision, everyone on stage was relaxed and they were clearly enjoying themselves.

One of my chief complaints regarding the aforementioned Celebrity series concerts was that the sound of the Orchestra was drowned out--and in some cases completely obliterated by--the so-so headliners. If anything the balance tonight's concert drifted the other way early on, but found the perfect center within the first few songs. The orchestra, chorus, and Mr. Anderson were at near perfect balance with each other and I found myself nearly completely absorbed in the beautiful essence that was the music.

To say that I preferred the second half of the program to the first would be true, but it wouldn't do justice to the first half. The only music I recognized from the program was "Owner of a Lonely Heart"--yet only recognized as the basis for "Owner of a Loaner Car" from an episode of The Simpsons**. Though, that said, there weren't any songs from the first half that I particularly loved.

The second half, though, included Your Move/I've Seen All Good People which was quite enjoyable, and then the words-cannot-accurately-describe-how-much-I-enjoyed State of Independence. Wow... Impressive melody with soaring strings, forceful bursts from the choir, though I hesitate to call it my favorite performance of non-classical music, I do not know why. I was thrilled that that this piece was reprised for the second encore.

I do have to note that Mr. Anderson seemed a little caught up in the moment during the quartet of pieces seeing their world premiere at this concert. The TV crew was also relatively intrusive with a jib camera occupying a fair amount of my visual field (and, in my ADHD state playing "follow the bouncing camera" and "who has the tally light"). I have no idea when it can be expected to air on HDNet.

UPDATE November 23, 2010: The Concert will be airing on HDNet Sunday November 28th at 8pm ET. HDNet is available to AT&T, Charter, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Insight, and Verizon subscribers.

This post would not be complete if I failed to mention the delicious irony of having a Sign Language Interpreter at an orchestra concert, but even he was a pleasure to watch and was clearly having fun.

So, here's the program:
Anderson (arr. Podell): Open
Anderson and Howe (arr. Mowrey): Starship Trooper (1971) (reprised as Encore #1)
Anderson (arr. Mowrey): Long Distance Runaround (1971)
Anderson and de Rosa (arr. Leary): Music Is God (unrelased, 2009)
Anderson (arr. Leary): Show Me
Anderson (arr. Leary): Big Buddha (unreleased, 2004)
Anderson, Squire, and Rabin (arr. Mowrey): Owner of a Lonely Heart (1983)
Anderson (arr. Leary, Orch. Poddell): Children Yet to Come/Earth Singing/Breathing/Love is All (World premiere, 2010)
Anderson and Howe (arr. Groupe): And You and I (1972)
Anderson and Haynes (arr. Leary): Earth and Peace (unreleased, 2009)
Anderson and Squire (arr. Leary/Mowrey): Your Move/I've Seen All The Good People (1971)
Anderson and Vangelis (arr. Leary): Change We Must (1994)
Anderson and Vangelis (arr. Leary): State of Independence (1981) (reprised as Encore #2)
Anderson and Howe (arr. Mowrey): Roundabout (1972)
Anderson (arr. Leary): Soon (1974)

With Jon Anderson, vocals/guitar
Liza Grossman, Music Director/Conductor.

* - If you can believe it, I actually got hate mail after Chris Botti. Not even well constructed hate mail, just anonymous "you're an idiot, the concert was perfect, cuz I said so" hate mail. That was particularly surprising, given that I didn't think my commentary was unduly negative. My favorite piece of hate mail referred to my "old school musical sensibilities"; clearly that person had never been within ten feet of my iPod.

** - Yes, I do watch TV, I just don't blog about it. I'd be lost without my TiVo and its suggestions.


  1. Just a further update: I'm watching a recording of the concert as I type this... it looks fantastic and the audio mix is pretty faithful to what I remember in the hall.

    If you have the chance to see it, I would reccommend it!

  2. Thanks, Lincoln.

    I was sitting here watching an HDNet rebroadcast of this concert and, thanks to Google, found your posted setlist for it. Much appreciated!


    P.S. Deja vu alert: I'm also a sign-language interpreter, and caught a brief glimpse of Mark Howdieshell at one early point in the telecast which made me do a double-take...but that was also because he rarely appeared in view of the camera for much of the show, so seeing him then was a (pleasant) surprise. :-)

    I also saw in your Profile that you liked E.S. Posthumous (sp?). You must really(!) love watching CBS telecasts of NFL Football then. :-)

  3. Hi Bram,

    Glad the set list was helpful.

    I got a courtesy copy of the show on DVD after the original air date, and I think they did a really good job with the production... I hadn't noticed how little Mark Howdieshell appeared on camera... :)

    Not much of a sports fan, but good call with E.S. Posthumous and NFL football ;)