Savion Glover floors 'em with Baltimore Symphony
The BSO's Symphony With a Tap, I mean Twist, program over the weekend featured the return of Savion Glover, whose feet kicked up a storm to the orchestra's accompanying performances of big, splashy pieces. I caught Saturday night's presentation at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, which attracted the kind of crowd many orchestras would kill for these days -- plentiful, enthusiastic, racially and generationally diverse.
Glover has probably done more for tap dancing than anyone since Eleanor Powell, transforming the genre into a kinetic, complex art form for a new era. He held the crowd in the soles of his feet as he interpreted the propulsive rhythms of John Adams' Lollapalooza, Michael Daugherty's Desi (the score suggests a hyper, Tropicana Club-based episode of I Love Lucy), a Danzon by Arturo Marquez (Glover got some of his coolest effects here just by sliding the edge of his foot against the stage platform), and more.
Through it all, Marin Alsop had the BSO churning along brightly. On the first half of the concert, devoted to the orchestra alone, she led a dynamic account of the Robert Russell Bennett symphonic synthesis of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, which generated lots of stylish playing from the ensemble.
There was also room for Mirage: A Fantasy of the Desert by A. Jack Thomas, the extraordinary African-American composer. conductor and educator who played a substantial role in Baltimore's musical life, starting in the early 1920s. The BSO premiered this neglected 1940s score in 2000 (Alsop credited the premiere to Darin Atwater and the Soulful Symphony in remarks from the stage on Saturday, but that seems to have been a case of misspeaking). Mirage is deftly written in an easy-going harmonic style, supported by a clear-cut structure and prismatic orchestration. It's as much fun to hear as I remember it being nine years ago, and it was sturdily performed.
BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTO