BYU PHILHARMONIC, de Jong Concert Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center, Brigham Young University, Nov. 9

Kory Katseanes believes in challenging his musicians. Since coming to Brigham Young University he has raised the bar in orchestral playing and it’s paid off handsomely, most recently in a stunning performance of Gustav Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 3. That took place last Friday by the BYU Philharmonic, and it was an evening to remember.

The level of playing was extremely high and one frequently forgot that this was a young orchestra and not a professional ensemble. The performance wasn’t flawless but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that Katseanes demanded a lot from his players and they delivered.

The large orchestra played with articulation and cleanly shaped phrases. The strings played with a rich, rounded tone, so essential in Mahler; the woodwinds were crisp and the brass was commanding. And the expanded percussion section must also be commended for its work. In short, everyone brought their A game Friday night.

Katseanes’ reading was broad, sweeping and wonderfully nuanced. He brought out the scope and depth of the work with his sensitive direction. The interpretation was dramatic, lyrical and gorgeously expressive.

Joining Katseanes and the orchestra were contralto Heather Foutz, the women of the BYU Concert Choir and the Salt Lake Children’s Choir.

Foutz’s rich, well modulated voice brought a wonderful layer of expression to the vocal part. The same was also true for the women’s choir. Their singing was lyrical and eloquent.

And not to be missed were the angelic voices of the Salt Lake Children’s Choir. They were absolutely radiant.

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About Edward Reichel

Edward Reichel, author, writer and composer, has been covering the classical music scene in Utah since 1997. For many years he served as the primary music critic for the Deseret News. He has also written for a number of publications, including Chamber Music Magazine, OPERA Magazine, 15 Bytes, Park City Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He can be reached at Reichel Recommends is also on Twitter @ReichelArts.

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