October 1, 2013
By Scott Cantrell
The Meadows Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon became the newest classical-music group to use the Dallas City Performance Hall. The concert was part of a new series of performances out in the community by ensembles from Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. The program repeated one presented Friday night at SMU’s Caruth Auditorium.
There was much interest to see how the 750-seat hall would work for a full symphony orchestra. It’s about one third the size of typical orchestra halls, and with very lively acoustics there was some fear the sound would be overpowering. But sound-absorptive banners can be lowered in varying degrees to adjust the acoustics.
In the first half, with the banners lowered more than halfway down the side walls and all the way at the rear, the sound was clear and full, but it lacked a certain liveliness. The side banners were raised maybe 10 feet for the second half, yielding a noticeable increase in sonic vividness. The sound was a bit loud, yes, but exciting—certainly far superior to Caruth, a facility better suited to smaller-scale music. There’s room for further experimentation.
The program opened with Lintukoto/Isle of Bliss, a 1995 tone poem by the contemporary Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara. Thirteen minutes long, this is frankly voluptuous music, and music director Paul Phillips caressed its phrases lovingly. Rhema McGee supplied a particularly suave horn solo....