A community orchestra plays a number of roles beyond its artistic responsibilities. It makes classical music geographically and financially accessible to the neighborhood, it informs, it reaches out to youngsters and it provides local musicians with an orchestral home. Under the direction of conductor Charles Ellis, the Prince George’s Philharmonic seems to do all these well.
The Philharmonic offered a nicely varied program at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday that may have stretched the orchestra some but that also, with Ellis’s useful and well-researched remarks, provided a pretty good notion of how artistic mores change. At its best, the orchestra provided mezzo-soprano Madelyn Wanner with fine, Mahler-like sonorities for her performance of his “Songs of a Wayfarer” cycle, the winds well balanced and the string ensemble clean and precise. Wanner gave a well-thought-out account that didn’t wallow in moodiness, but had she reined in her wide vibrato a little, the full warmth of her voice might have had more of a chance to bloom.
The Stravinsky “Pulcinella” Suite that opened the program proved to be a challenge to the string-section ensemble and, except for a lovely second movement, the concluding Mozart “Jupiter” Symphony No. 41 could have used some rebalancing.
Reinthaler is a freelance writer.