Guest conductor Kayoko Dan featured the colorful arrangements of Maurice Ravel to showcase her talents Thursday night during a concert by the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera at the Tivoli Theatre.
Dan is the final candidate to replace Robert Bernhardt as music director and conductor of the CSO. Bernhardt will step down from those roles at the end of this season. The CSO has been conducting the search over the last three years, inviting between three and four conductors a year to lead the orchestra as part of the selection process.
The Japanese-born Dan put the orchestra through its paces during a program titled "Pictures at an Exhibition." Composed by Modeste Mussorgsky and arranged by Ravel, the work features a good deal of orchestration and "color," as Dan described it to the audience.
They opened the program with Claude Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of Faun," an apt piece for spring. They followed that with Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite."
Dan is music director of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra. She spoke to the audience twice, first giving a bit of history about the composers and the pieces and later introducing the Mussorgsky piece and explaining why she chose the Ravel arrangement.
"It is very orchestrated, and it uses lots of colors," she said.
The Ravel arrangements were indeed more colorful, though less melodically memorable or emotionally accessible for my taste. Hearing the sounds that the violinists got by plucking their strings instead of bowing them during the third and fourth movements of the "Mother Goose Suite," for instance, was more interesting than the piece itself.
The Ravel pieces showcased the instruments and the players in ways not often heard, and that was the enjoyment in this particular concert.
The concert will be repeated tonight at 8 at the Tivoli Theatre.