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Review: New York Pops Begins Their Season On A High Note at Carnegie Hall

By Megan Wrappe, Contributing Writer, October 31, 2017

Walking into Carnegie Hall last Friday there was a feeling in the air that only new beginnings bring. Chatter filled the hall as people took their seats, old friends found each other in the crowds, and new concertgoers sat wide eyed, taking in the beauty of Isaac Stern Auditorium. After taking a hiatus for the summer, the New York Pops was about to kick off its 35th season and the audience was ready for it. The program for the night was entitled “That’s Entertainment: From Skitch to Steven,” honoring the late Skitch Henderson, founder of The New York Pops, all the way to its current music director and conductor, Steven Reineke. The evening would include selections from classic musical theatre, as well as modern writers like Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Lloyd Webber with guest vocalists and Broadway veterans Matt Doyle and Ali Ewoldt, who currently stars as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera. This proved to be another amazing evening with the Pops.

The program began with an old favorite of the orchestra, Victor Herbert’s “Festival March” which was lively and fun. Ewoldt quickly won the audience over with her rendition of “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady, which showed her extensive range. Being the first Asian American woman to play the role of Christine on Broadway, she continued to show her versatility with her next number, “Summertime” from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Not to be outdone, Doyle showed his crooner side with a suave version of “It Had to Be You,” filled with smooth notes; it was lovely. Closing out the first half was the Pops taking on another classic—the overture from Jule Stein’s musical Gypsy, which left the audience humming along.

Doyle and Ewoldt took the stage again to perform a heavenly version of “The Balcony Scene” from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and “Before and After You/One Second and a Million Miles” from Jason Robert Brown’s Bridges of Madison County. Even though the two had not previously performed together, their voices melded together wonderfully, in spite of their very different ranges and stylistic backgrounds. After their duets, each performer was able to share a few songs from their current and past role repertoire. For Ewoldt, it was none other than a song she performs nearly every night of the week, “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera, where her voice floated gloriously to the rafters and the hall rang with her gorgeous voice.

Doyle chose a song from the musical for which he is most known, The Book of Mormon. His choice, “You and Me, But Mostly Me” is a duet, so who joined in? none other than conductor, Steve Reineke, who sounded like a seasoned pro. And if that duo wasn’t enough of a crowd pleaser, the Pops followed up with their final number of the night, the “Raiders March” from John Williams’s classic soundtrack Raiders of the Lost Ark, bringing the audience to its feet.

An evening spent with The New York Pops is typically a magical one, and this was no exception. The uniqueness of this programming was the even balancing of classic Broadway repertoire paired with some newer selections, all of which were eloquently brought to life by the combined talents of Doyle and Ewoldt. If this season opener is any indication, it seems we will all be in for a treat each time the orchestra enters the concert hall this year.

For more information about the New York Pops upcoming concerts and events click here.


The New York Pops in concert at Carnegie Hall on October 27, 2017. Steven Reineke, Music Director and Conductor; Matt Doyle, guest artist; Ali Ewoldt, guest artist.


Cover: (l. to r.) Matt Doyle, Steven Reineke and Ali Ewoldt and the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall; photo: Richard Termine.


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