By the end of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with the Alexandria Performing Arts Chorale invoking "Joy" at the top of its full, rich voices, it was clear that Northern Virginia has something special to be joyful about. A broadcast concert by the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra last night on WETA-FM's "Music at Your Doorstep" series confirmed for a larger audience the growing reputation this group has been developing in its own community.
Besides the Ninth, music director William Hudson chose Beethoven's Eighth to introduce his orchestra to the radio audience. No music is more familiar, and in none does an audience demand higher quality. Despite these challenging conditions, the Fairfax Symphony sounded highly impressive -- not at all like a small, local orchestra with some amateur members.
Hudson's interpretations were solid, carefully paced and phrased both expressively and elegantly. The orchestra was not perfect but highly responsive, and despite a few small slips it did full justice both to the music and to the interpretations.
The singing was particularly impressive from bass William Powers and tenor James McDonald, but the whole quartet sang well, as did the chorus. And the sound was very well balanced and blended by the WETA engineers. Less enjoyable performances have been given by more prestigious orchestras.