NOTES: The New York Pops’ “Movie Mixtape”
Last night at Carnegie Hall, the New York Pops closed out its annual subscription season with “Movie Mixtape: Songs from the Silver Screen”, a crowd-pleasing concert-length celebratory survey of hit songs from the movies.
From “Hooray for Hollywood” (1937) to “This is Me” (2017), the ever-excellent Pops orchestra, under the reliably cheerful music direction of conductor Steven Reineke, charted 90 years of Hollywood’s musical evolution with the aid of four guest vocalists: Mykal Kilgore (“Songs for a New World”), Storm Large (“Rock Star: Supernova”), Ryan Silverman (“Side Show”), and Laura Osnes (“Cinderella”)—a late replacement for Ashley Park (“Mean Girls”) who just booked a television series.
As always, Mr. Reinke curated a fantastic program of popular music to showcase both his orchestra and their visiting guests, including the unmistakable 20th Century Fox fanfare, a Disney mashup, and the theme to “Summer of ‘42”, a special add-on tribute to its French composer Michel Legrand who passed away in January, and composer André Previn who passed away in February.
While Mr. Silverman and Ms. Osnes are consummate professionals who covered their songs with a winning panache, it was Mr. Kilgore—in his Carnegie Hall debut—and Ms. Large whose powerhouse vocals and vivacious personalities repeatedly blew the roof off the Isaac Stern Auditorium, and involved more fist-bumping than usual (which is none).
Ms. Large faced the intimidating, if not unenviable, task of handling songs made famous by Judy Garland (“The Man That Got Away”, in its iconic 1961 Carnegie Hall arrangement), Barbra Streisand (“The Way We Were”), and Adele (“Skyfall”), but she delivered, with the latter tune bringing the house down.
For his part, Mr. Kilgore—last seen on Broadway in “Motown” and “Hair”—who accurately describes his own unique sound as “a gumbo of American roots music and modern feels, soul, and storytelling”, showcased his impressive high tenor-sliding-into-soprano vocal range with his covers of “The Rainbow Connection”, “When You Believe” (in duet with Ms. Osnes), and “Happy”, from “Despicable Me”.
The concert closed with an epic rendition of the pop-anthem “This is Me” by “Dear Evan Hansen” composers Pasek and Paul, and—in an embarrassment of riches—an encore of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”, a nod to 2018’s hit film “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
My biggest takeaway? Mr. Kilgore is a rockstar talent to watch. I look forward to seeing him again at Carnegie Hall (and back on Broadway soon), and am already eager to enjoy the next season of the Pops.