Weekend update: 'Paganini of the harmonica'
It isn't often that you hear a harmonica player perform with a symphony orchestra. That rare treat plays out at 7:30 p.m. today at Danville High School, 202 E. Fairchild St., as harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio performs in "Americana: A Tribute to the American Farmer." The concert will offer musical snapshots of America from the Deep South of the '20s to Broadway of the '40s and later.
1 Maestro Jeremy Swirling will conduct orchestral works by George Gershwin and Kurt Weill, as arranged by Robert Russell Bennett. They include Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess Symphonic Picture" and Weill's "Lady in the Dark." Swerling: "With its combination of banjo and Southern blues, it's one of the best examples of an orchestra actually sounding 'right' playing jazz while 'Symphonic Nocturne' from 'Lady in the Dark' brilliantly captures and weaves together some of angst the country was going through in 1941."
2 A new dimension to the Danville Symphony Orchestra concert tonight: Live video of the performers mixed with images of America will be projected on screens in the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium. "People my age are used to visual elements at concerts, and I think the video projection is really going to enhance the audience's experience of the performance because it will bring us closer to the performers and the music," DSO board member Jonathon Myers said.
3 Bonfiglio, who lives in New York and was dubbed by an L.A. critic the "Paganini of the harmonica," has performed in major venues worldwide in a range of styles from classical to blues. He will join the orchestra for performances of a Stephen Foster Medley and of Three American Sketches for Harmonica and Strings by famed Beatles producer Sir George Martin.
4 Concert ticket-holders are invited to Moments with the Maestro at 6:45 p.m. Tickets to the concert itself are $28 and $30 for adults; $26 and $28 for senior citizens 65 and older; and $15 for students. They will be available at the door. There will be a post-concert reception for Bonfiglio at the Danville Boat Club. Tickets for that are $10.