More than just a concert, last Saturday evening’s final Ridgefield Symphony program this season at the Anne S. Richardson Auditorium also served both as an opportunity for four outstanding members of the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra to perform with the RSO and as a showcase for a group of dancers from the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. The participating Youth Orchestra performers were violinists Steven da Cruz, Ben Garbow and Joanna Giordano, and cellist Charlotte Ullman. James Robey’s thirteen RCD dancers (Caleigh Andersen, Carrie Brian, Devon Colton, Katie Czyr, Janel Fitzgerald, Kelly Gleason, Stephanie Ibarra, Lauren Lamothe, Isaac Lerner, Joliette Mandel, Daniella Parisot, Emma Sandhu, and Leah Strayer), presented with the collaboration of Artists-in-Residence Adelka Polak and Justin Perlman of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists, provided an impressive visual element for Benjamin Britten’s Courtly Dances.
In addition to the Courtly Dances from Britten’s opera Gloriana, Maestro Gerald Steichen’s all-English program included Sir William Walton’s Crown Imperial March, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on “Greensleeves,” Frederick Delius’s “On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring” and “The Walk to the Paradise Garden,” and both Sir Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March and his “Enigma” Variations.
The orchestra was notably fine on this occasion, playing with precision, excellent sectional balances, and attentive responsiveness to their leader’s sensitive control of interpretive phrasing and dynamic shadings. The highpoint among highpoints was the Elgar “Enigma” Variations, directed and played with the kind of interpretive understanding that transforms a printed score into expressive musical communication.
As a final touch, it has to be noted that the evening’s most exuberant audience bravo went to this year’s annual “Golden Baton” winner Susan Dumont-Bengston, who masterfully led the RSO in Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March, enthusiastically evoking both the work’s martial majesty and the soaring warmth of its central “Land of Hope and Glory” trio.