Two exceptionally talented women guest artists made history at the Valley Symphony Orchestra concert April 2.
Award-winning Yuliya Gorenman, a Russian-born American pianist with performances across Europe and America, earned standing ovations for her deep, sheer artistry. She has done live radio and TV concerts that reach around much of the world.
Music Director Peter Dabrowski conducted as she played “Piano Concerto in A Minor, Opus 16” by Edward Grieg. She enthralled everyone with her performance before a symphony audience that recognizes and appreciates international talent.
Gorenman is currently recording and performing all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. She seems certain to be invited back to Texas. She is professor of piano and musician in residence at American University in Washington, D.C.
The second half of the concert began and ended with a lively, unique surprise for the VSO.
Amy Hymel Brownlow, a youthful bombshell, exploded onstage at the McAllen Civic Center Auditorium, leading a troupe of nine dancers and singers to perform selections from “Sweet Charity,” one of Broadway’s most cynical, sexy musicals.
Brownlow has performed from Italy to Mexico, and toured across much of the U.S. She teaches voice at the University of Texas-Brownsville. She is the founder and general-artistic director of Bravo Opera Company in Brownsville.
Some senior citizens at the symphony looked surprised by the rather skimpy costumes. This reviewer heard no complaints, only praise for the talented collegians.
These are excellent dancers, singers and actors. Being backed by about half of the symphony and aided by Dabrowski, they deserved the huge ovations they all received.
The dance department at The University of Texas-Pan American supplied this strong talent. The other six women are Sarah Almaraz, Deanna Errisuriz, Adina Flores, Priscilla Gomez, Lora Lee Martinez, and Vanessa Rodriguez.
The three men act, sing and emote well, too. Remember the names Luis Alfonso Lopez, Erik Cavazos and Andrew Coburn. They matched the female seven to create a strong cast. “Sweet Charity” is based on Neil Simon’s book, and was staged and choreographed for Broadway by Bob Fosse. Too bad if you missed this unlikely symphony classic performed in McAllen. Keep looking to see it…worth a trip anywhere.
The wild, fierce songs, music and dialogue of “Sweet Charity” also starred the talents of Richard Davis and Dana Shackelford, who served as Stage Director and Choreographer. They excel as teachers of singing and dance at UTPA.
The symphony should stage red-hot Broadway musicals again, if they come close to this elite shocker.
Meanwhile, don’t miss the Valley’s final concert this season, May 7 at UTPA. It will play Bernstein, Paganini, Schubert and Khachaturian, but without a chorus line.