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Pink Lady & Blue Skies

September 8, 2010 - Phyllis Sigal

Probably one of my favorite outdoor events of the year is the Wheeling Symphony's "Music Under the Stars," on the Sunday evening of Labor Day Weekend.

This year was no exception ... except it could've been a bit warmer! The air had quite the chill by 10 p.m. (And my iPhone's Bic Lighter app gave off little heat! OK, no heat.)

One of the highlights of the evening was the opening skit featuring board members Lea Ridenour, Les Defelice and board president Betsy Delk.

Promoting the pops series for the 2010-11 season (The '50s Dance Party, Classical Mystery Tour and the Music of Led Zeppelin), Lea was a perky "Pink Lady" from the 1950s, Betsy was a peaceful hippie from the 1960s, while Les was a long-haired 1970s kind of guy. 

Another highlight was guest artist Chris Tedesco, who played the trumpet with a beautiful clarity. He was as entertaining in his stories as he was in his playing. Tedesco, who lives in Los Angeles, met WSO conductor Andre Raphel when they were both at the University of Miami, in Florida, he noted.

Tedesco said he's been quite lucky to have played on recordings for many movies,  television shows, commercials, CDs as well as live dates with some big names in the industry.

His Italian movie theme medley was a lot of fun, but my favorite was when he played, "Blue Skies," with a jazzy accompaniment from Jack DiIanni on drums, Jeff Mangone on bass and Nathan Strasser on keyboards. I'm not sure I've ever heard better jazz. These guys were hot.

Throughout the evening we also heard Rossini, Ellington, Tchaikovsky, Berlin, Mancini, Copland and we winded up with Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," just before a grand fireworks finale.

While the Sousa was conducted by Dolph Santorine, who won the privilege at the WSO fund-raising auction in the spring, the Copland was "conducted" by a toddler boy seated in about the fourth row. Or should I say standing on his seat in the fourth row.

I couldn't take my eyes off of him. Campbell Koegler, 4, who is the son of Jason and Sarah Koegler and grandson of Bill and Debby Koegler, conducted with gusto with a flashlight in one hand. (The flashlight came from his little brother's lighthouse birthday cake Debby had made for his party that day.)

When the music slowed, Campbell slowed. When the pace quickened, so did his little arms. He was as into that music as any of the hundreds in the audience — or on the stage. He was intense. I wouldn't be surprised if some day he's up on that stage conducting or playing an instrument.

Hollywood and Jazz at the Symphony was a perfect way to spend a Sunday evening. And I'm certainly looking forward to the WSO's opening Masterworks concert Sept. 24 featuring pianist William Wolfram.

But I'm especially looking forward to Flash Cadillac's "50s Dance Party," on Oct. 8.

And by the way, Lea, may I borrow your Pink Lady jacket?



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