Monday, March 30, 2015

Do You Hear the People Sing, Kennedy Center, Washington DC, March 27-28, 2015

A review from Maggi

A concert celebrating the work of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenberg

National Symphony Orchestra
Steven Reineke, Conductor
featuring vocalists:
Lea Salonga
Eric Kunze
Terrence Mann
Kathy Voytko
Marie Zamora
the University of Maryland Concert Choir and the Children's Choir of Washington

It was a full house at the Kennedy Center on Friday night, March 27th. The atmosphere was electric as orchestra members tuned their instruments and choir members took their seats above them. This was my second time seeing Eric perform at the Kennedy Center, the first being New Year's Eve, 2008, one of the most thrilling nights of my life. Then, he was doing the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. This time it was the music of Boublil and Schoenberg, composer and lyricist of some of the most beautiful music on Broadway: Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, as well as The Pirate Queen and The Return of Martin Guerre.

The concert opened with an overture by the symphony, consisting of excerpts of all of the above musicals, cleverly intertwined into a fluid piece of music. Vocal selections from Miss Saigon followed, including Terrance Mann in "Bui Doi", accompanied by the wonderful University of Maryland concert choir, Lea Salonga in "I'd Give My Life for You" and Lea and Eric singing "Last Night of the World" with it's sexy saxophone accompaniment. As each artist sang, they related an amusing story about their connection to the music and afterward introduced the next artist.

 Each performer kept the audience spellbound.  There was not a dull moment in the whole evening.  Lea Salonga chatted with the audience as though we were in her living room and her voice was stronger than ever, especially in "On My Own."  Kathy Voytko revealed her comedic side in "Master of the House" and we could picture her strength in the role of the Irish Pirate Queen.  Eric, Lea and Kathy thrilled us with the trio, "In My Life - A Heart Full of Love".  Terrence Mann was dynamic as the Engineer and hilarious in "Master of the House".  Maria Zamora, wife of Alain Boublil and the very first Cosette in Les Miserables in France sang beautifully in "Au Petit Matin" as well as her duet with Eric in "Live With Someone You Love", from Martin Guerre.  I would love to see Eric in that role.  That musical is made for him!

But of course, the highlight of the evening for me was Eric singing “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. I'd heard him sing it before in other venues, but this surpassed all others. It was filled with emotion and pitch perfect. When Eric sings he is in character and the whole musical plays in your mind. You could sense that the audience could hardly wait for the last few seconds to unleash wild applause and cheers. The same thing happened at the end of the concert. The audience was standing, clapping and cheering and then became even louder when the composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenberg came out on stage. I could sense the happy mood in the animated conversation around me as we departed the auditorium.

Eric, Lea Salonga, Kathy Votyko 
backstage before the concert