NOTES: New York Pops’ 36th Season Launches with “Roll Over Beethoven”
Last night, the New York Pops kicked off its 36th season at Carnegie Hall—and marked the 10th anniversary of its music director and conductor Steven Reineke—with “Roll Over Beethoven”, a rocking “show” of a concert firmly fortifying the Pops’ brand as “a different kind of orchestra”.
Lending a spirit of glitz to the occasion, three time “Las Vegas Headliner of the Year” Frankie Moreno and his band joined the orchestra for an eclectic program freely flowing across musical categories from rock ‘n roll to crooner standards, country, blues, soul, pop, and even selections by Michael Jackson and Mumford and Sons.
Ostensibly celebrating the golden age of rock, the somewhat confused vision of the program was made up for by the magnetism of Mr. Moreno’s performance and the strength of his vocals, which easily evoke greats from Elton John to Elvis. A consummate entertainer smoothly coiffed and bedecked in sequins, Mr. Moreno is also a talented songwriter (“Moonlight Matinee” was a concert highlight).
Unfortunately, somewhat lost in the proceeding was the New York Pops orchestra itself, muted and mooted, too often layered with the electrified personnel of Mr. Moreno’s six-piece band. The arrangements and performances were energetic but often missed opportunities for the Pops to showcase its unique ability to re-imagine popular songs with the grandeur and pure musicality of a large-scale orchestra.
This clash of vision was on display throughout the evening as the orchestra was upstaged by two dancers, three back-up singers, cell phone “lighter” waving, an audience-wide slow dance to “Stand By Me”, and musicians parading in the aisles. Still, the Pops never fail to deliver an enjoyable concert. There is a reason no other orchestra performs more at Carnegie Hall. Check out the rest of their 2018-2019 season here.