SAN DIEGO — Guest conductor Murry Sidlin brought audience participation into his SummerPops format Wednesday night at Hospitality Point. In what appeared to be a democratic exercise, the audience voted with its applause for each piece on the program (Sidlin and the San Diego Symphony had prepared three selections for each category). But, like so many American elections, the outcome of the voting was of little consequence, since the musical candidates for which the audience cast ballots were all cut from the same bolt of cloth.
Most of Wednesday's audience was dying to hear Rossini's Overture to "William Tell," even though a significant portion of their fellow listeners was just as enthusiastic about hearing the can-can from Offenbach's Overture to "Orpheus in the Underworld." And the finale of Dvorak's Symphony "From the New World" beat out the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth by 10 points on the applause meter.
The orchestra was playing well--with more than a modicum of enthusiasm--until the concert's momentum stalled in a lackadaisical reading of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." Guest pianist Constance Geanakoplos approached this earthy, jazzy war horse with the dainty formality of a matron serving tea, and her light, fussy technique was not up to Gershwin's keyboard requirements.
Following this pallid Gershwin imitation and the usual, longish pops intermission, the audience's enthusiasm for the whole project diminished appreciably. Neither a routine arrangement of tunes from Marvin Hamlisch's hit musical "A Chorus Line" nor a rousing rendition of two "Slavonic Dances" by Dvorak could put the wind back in the pops' sails.
Sidlin urged the audience to vote for Ravel's "Bolero" for the program's finale, since the orchestra's rendition of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," he claimed, would be anemic without the obligatory canons and bells. It turned out to be a bit of a compromise, however, since conductor and orchestra delivered a "Bolero" with the heavy-handedness usually reserved for the Tchaikovsky.
Wednesday's attendance was a modest 1,739. This program continues at 7:30 tonight and Saturday at Hospitality Point, although the fare will vary with each audience's proclivities. The program will be repeated in a free 7 p.m. concert Sunday at the Carlsbad Research Center.