Every now and then, an event happens on my beat that uncovers unsuspected performing arts treasure that has been lurking for years in our midst. The debut of Charlotte's new chamber orchestra, Queen City Virtuosi presenting An Ideal Evening, was like experiencing that special thrill twice in one concert.
The precision, the artistry, and the dedication of this 25-member ensemble; drawn predominantly from the Charlotte Symphony, but also including members of the Winston-Salem Symphony, the Greensboro Symphony, the Charleston Symphony, and the Degas and La Catrina string quartets; were all abundantly in evidence during a program that gathered works by Haydn, Bartok, Poulenc, and Hindemith.
What blew me away beyond the work of the ensemble, as I sat in the balcony of McGlohon Theatre, was how marvelously this hall was suited to this kind of music. Never mind the vestigial stained-glass windows, the sounds I was hearing were a sinful delight.
As it turned out, the title of the concert wasn't an effusion of conceit; it was an expression of conductor Lynn Fuller's belief that each of the composers in the program was an idealist. Fuller tended to be as venturesome as the music, which meant that Poulenc's Mouvements Perpetuels, Hindemith's Five Pieces for String Orchestra, and Bartok's Divertimento were all boldly interpreted and exquisitely played. On Haydn's "La Reine" Symphony 85, Fuller was also precise and meticulous but not nearly as intrepid.
Yet this was the opening piece, where I drank in the ambrosial intoxication of the first notes of orchestral music I've heard at the McGlohon. Leaders of the four-member string sections -- Calin Lupanu on first violin, Monica Boboc on second violin, Simon Ertz on viola, and cellist Jennifer Humphreys -- all had their chances to shine individually (and as a quartet) in the Bartok. In the Haydn, heroics were carried off by oboist Hollis Ulaky, flutist Erinn Frechette, and bassoonist Lori Tiberio.
Join me in the balcony the next time Queen City Virtuosi play the McGlohon. I'll be sure to issue advance notice.