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EMAV Review: Henderson Symphony Orchestra sent “Wizard of Oz” soaring for a very exuberant family cr

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

By Marianne Donnelly

Lyman Frank Baum, author of the OZ Series, was also known as: George Brooks, Louis F. Baum, Laura Bancroft, Suzanne Metcalf, Capt. Hugh Fitz- gerald, Schuyler Staunton, Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, John Estes Cooke! With these pen names he wrote more than 400 books, plays, scripts, articles and poems.

We remember Baum most for “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” dedicated to his wife, Maud Gage Baum, because of the enormous popularity of the 1939 movie star- ring Judy Garland as Dorothy from Kansas.

It was magnificent to view the original film, in enhanced High Definition, where every fantasia and character popped in Techni- color on the Large (24’ foot x 18 foot) screen, accompanied by the synchronized original score, at this lush-lawned, gracefully-covered, acoustically-perfect Pavilion, with the Henderson Symphony Orches- tra in full “enchantment” mode.

Many Children dressed as their favorite OZ character and sang with songs we all recognize over the rainbow.

It is fun to know that Baum’s mother-in-law Matilda Gage had “votes for women” politics that were incorporated by Baum into subsequent OZ books. Baum was secretary of their local Woman’s Suffrage Club where Susan B. Anthony visited and stayed with the Baums.

As a nod to the Gages’ works, in “The Marvelous Land of Oz,” women rise up (armed with knit ting needles) and succeed in making men do many household chores. The story ultimately has a fe- male, who advocates equality, selected as their leader, in 1904! Context for this author’s partial inspi ration is so sweet to enjoy.

Numerous competing theories about the meaning of OZ can be read online. They run from, it’s a commentary on the monetary system (yellow brick road as gold- backed currency) to the humbugs of politics, then, and maybe, now. The power of courage, belief, friendship and will to survive, are certainly themes to adore. The magic of his writing is that so many layers of meaning can be put on the story. And maybe, it’s just a dream, after all. The story of Baum’s ups and downs is also a good read, as is the “Annotated Wizard Of Oz,” by M.P. Hearn.

We have come a long way since imaginary knitting-needle equality uprisings, because Conducting for the magnificent Henderson Sym- phony Orchestra was the esteemed, energetic, delightful Alexandra Arrieche, who began her musical studies as a vocalist before mastering conducting and composition.

In 2013 she completed her Arts Diploma in Orchestral Conducting with Maestro Gustav Meier at Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Institute and continues to be highly sought around the musical world.

Ms. Arrieche says, “Playing in the orchestra is like being in the movie in this (film-coordinated) concert. Most of the players grew up knowing the movie. It is sweet, seeing their ‘inner kid’ coming back!” Indeed, Alexandra’s playful side shone brightly with her brilliant ruby-red, chub-heeled shoes tapping time!

Members of HSO emphasized they “have to always keep their eyes on the conductor to make sure the music matches the film.” One musical tempo-challenge comes during, “If I Only Had a Heart.” It seems Tin Woodman is slightly “rhythmically-challenged,” so the music has to be played, rather, “give and take!” What fun to know that!

Here are but a few of where Ms. Arrieche has guest conduct- ed: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, North Czech Philharmonic Teplice, Minas Gerais Philharmonic, São Paulo State University Orchestra, Porto Alegre Symphony Orchestra, and Orquesta Nacional de Mexico. She enters her third triumphant year with HSO, with many seasons to come!

Up next for HSO is their free July 7, 2018, Lake Las Vegas Celebration, 8 p.m., fireworks 9 p.m., at Reflection Bay. Go early, spaces fill quickly.

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