nary the twain shall meet

Product Image: The Orlando Philharmonic with Poncho Sanchez

I had been waiting quite a while for Poncho to come to Orlando, since long before the season was announced. It is exciting to see the Orchestra branching out to reach a broader audience. (I should disclose at this point that I once worked in the offices of the Phil; it was my first post-college job.)

I have been excited about the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra‘s attempts at appealing to the very large hispanic population by bringing in perhaps the most formidible figure in latin music extant. My father-in-law hipped me to Sanchez a couple years ago and I have eaten up his album, Latin Soul, since. Fusing music is always an experiment, a foray into uncharted territory. Sometimes the results are mezmerizing and groundbreaking. Sometimes, they fall far short of stellar.

Last night was the latter.

The first half was a short jaunt through light classical fare. I recall Rimsky-Korsakov, I believe. At intermission, the hydraulic pit was raised to reveal a latin band setup on the thrust. Poncho was accomanied by keys, timbales, assorted percussion/bongos, trumpet, trombone, EUB (a Tony Banda prototype for Azola) and alto/tenor sax.

The Sanchez band was superb. I couldn’t anticipate the level of energy and execution the band offered the polarized audience. The Orlando Phil had not seen the type of rowdy crowd present at the concert last night and it was obvious at those whith less discretion were not comfortable sitting next to the “patrons of the arts.” This same dichotomy was amply present onstage as the orchestra showed a tangible disinterest in the music. This became painfully apparent as the lights on the orchestra were dimmes and the Sanchez band played to raucous numbers sans strings (and winds and brass…you get the point). Several members of the orchestra practically fell asleep, leaning on their arms as they waited for their next chance to play.

What might have been most disappointing was the percentage of the extremely small crowd (less than half a house, much greater than the <400 people at the matinee) which left well before the conclusion of the concert. This did not detract from the sublime performance presented by Sanchez and his band. My wife lamented that the band could not play a club date while they were in town, one where a more rowdy crowd would be appreciated.

I agreed.

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