How outdoorsy can you get? Chip Davis's symphonic tribute to Yellowstone National Park at Wolf Trap Sunday night was introduced by none other than Jim Fowler, host of Mutual of Omaha's long-running "Wild Kingdom." As it turns out, the insurance company is helping underwrite a national tour of Davis's orchestral suite "The Music of Nature: A Concert for Yellowstone," which so far has raised more than $200,000 for the park's fire recovery program through record sales and performances.
Although dubbed the "Yellowstone Symphony" by Davis, the ensemble he conducted was actually the Wolf Trap Festival Orchestra, augmented by members of his own group, Mannheim Steamroller. The suite itself was something of a composite as well, a mixture of nature pieces by Debussy, Sibelius, Vivaldi, Grofe and Respighi as well as Davis's popular (and rather New Age-ish) "Fresh Aire" compositions. Not surprisingly, the results were mostly soothing or sprightly, but in typical Mannheim fashion, Davis pulled out all the stops on the "Cloud Burst" movement from Grofe's "Grand Canyon" Suite, adding smoke, a slide show and strobe lights to an already stirring piece of music.
The evening's low point came after intermission, when there were more National Park Service and Mutual of Omaha officials delivering speeches and proclamations on stage than should be allowed by law.