Sunday, June 10, 2018

Omaha World-Herald: Thomas Wilkins...conducted the orchestra with his typical brilliance

Thomas Wilkins

Drew Neneman

June 9, 2018

Music steps in when you can’t find the words, and genius steps in when you need the perfect words to go with it.

At the Holland Center on Friday night, the Omaha Symphony and Festival Chorus presented two works that are almost unrivaled in their esteem among masterpieces to end the 2017-18 season. Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony are both incredible marriages of poetry and musical imagination.

The “Chichester Psalms” displayed unusual melodic playfulness and powerful orchestral textures. The choir presented excerpts from five different Psalms in Hebrew above the orchestra while a young boy soprano sang the voice of King David. The boy soprano was Arthur Pecceu. In addition to his charming voice, his poise and energy onstage were very impressive for a performer so young.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was remarkable. The power and passion of its spiritual text and musical genius presented something satisfying for every sort of listener in the audience. The German poetry that inspired Beethoven to compose this symphony is electrifying.

Thomas Wilkins, music director, conducted the orchestra with his typical brilliance. Both the Beethoven and the Bernstein require tremendous skill, power and agility from every musician involved. At the end of the night when Wilkins dabbed his brow to turn and bow, he was well-deserving of the delighted sigh and smile he shared with the ensemble. A master among his peers, Wilkins still deserves to enjoy his victory in this mammoth concert.

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