Assessment: DeKalb Symphony continues to blossom beneath Paul Bhasin’s baton






The DeKalb Symphony Orchestra’s 2022 fall run has been a proving floor of types for the fledgling orchestra. The season opened in September with a powerful efficiency beneath the command of new music director Paul Bhasin and the nice and cozy glow of his signature appeal.

On Tuesday night within the Marvin Cole Auditorium on the Perimeter Faculty of Georgia State College’s Clarkston Campus, the symphony returned for its second efficiency beneath the brand new conductor. With that got here the chance to see if the ensemble would proceed to gel nicely collectively beneath Bhasin’s new management. It was clear by the capability crowd that native enthusiasm for the orchestra stays robust.

The live performance started with Georges Bizet’s “L’Arlésienne” Suite No. 2. The product of an unsuccessful collaboration between Bizet and playwright Alphonse Daudet, the 2 suites survive as a soundtrack compilation of types. It was a shaky opener — the anthemic first motion, “Pastorale,” leans closely on accentuations from the horn part and there was one thing unfocused and warbly within the opening strains. The second motion, “Intermezzo,” fared higher with its cheerful, adventurous tone that referred to as to thoughts the early works of Koji Kondo.

All through the opening actions of “L’Arlésienne,” there was an odd dramatic pressure between the horns and strings — doubtless a carryover from Daudet’s unique story, which offers with the agony of unrequited love. Regardless of the case, an eye-of-the-storm second emerges within the third motion, “Menuet,” which featured a mild and fascinating dialogue between harp and flute. 

Principal flutist Kathy Farmer deserves specific distinction. The motion was calm, wistful and pastoral, however nonetheless endowed with melodic runs of formidable virtuosity. For an orchestra nonetheless very a lot within the throes of transition, such a standout efficiency is essential and was a welcome spotlight to the night.

Paul Bhasin, the brand new music director of the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra

For all its bombastic attraction, “L’Arlésienne” paled compared to the following providing, a efficiency of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in E Main. It featured a visitor look by violinist Jessica Wu, a founding member of the acclaimed Vega Quartet, which is in residence at Emory College.

Bach casts a protracted shadow throughout the canon of classical music and amongst his huge array of accomplishments is a novel capability to jot down an enticing featured-instrument concerto. 

Many main composers use their concertos for a show of senseless solo virtuosity that’s solely sometimes accentuated by the bigger ensemble. Bach, alternatively, wrote jovial, participating melody all through the work that bounced cheerfully off an omnipresent ensemble accompaniment.

Wu had ample alternative to show her appreciable chops within the context of a enjoyable, upbeat composition that by no means overpassed the melody. The piece appeared to go by in a flash, bookended by the epic grandiosity of the primary and third actions. It was the standout efficiency of the night time. The DSO has finished nicely to complement its seasonal performances with a bevy of visitor expertise that not solely elevates the standard of its live shows however additional permits the symphony to rub shoulders with native musical luminaries.

The night’s third and remaining piece was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, op. 64. Written across the theme of “destiny” and serving as a research within the composer’s personal grappling with future versus free will, the work is unnervingly ominous and moribund in its opening motion — an uncommon selection for a composer so usually given to the euphoric and eccentric. 

That unorthodox opening, with its funeral-dirge tempo and brooding angst, allowed the orchestra to place its finest foot ahead and lean on their assured string part. Tchaikovsky was at all times a strings man firstly and his option to play to his personal strengths allowed the orchestra to play to theirs.

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 covers great floor however builds slowly at a sober and deliberate tempo that offered the symphony with a chance to reintroduce every of its sections in a way that was finally satisfying — a redemption of types for any weak performances within the opening Bizet.

The DeKalb Symphony Orchestra, after seeing turmoil in recent times when it was with out each an government director and music director, has now stabilized and is a promising orchestra. Bhasin has charismatic management and skillful conducting, and the orchestra has Alan Hopper as government director. 

There may be at all times a way of a low ceiling with this orchestra since most of its musicians are volunteer. However it’s heartening to listen to the orchestra get the most effective out of what it has, and to be elevated with visitor performers akin to Wu.


Jordan Owen started writing about music professionally on the age of 16 in Oxford, Mississippi. A 2006 graduate of the Berklee Faculty of Music, he’s an expert guitarist, bandleader and composer. He’s at present the lead guitarist for the jazz group Different Strangers, the facility steel band Axis of Empires and the melodic demise/thrash steel band Century Spawn.

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