Last night Kish, the Carroll County Cousin, and I went to the mighty Ohio Theater for a performance of the Columbus Symphony. It was the debut of the next Music Director for the Symphony, Rossen Milanov, who comes to Ohio’s Capital City after stints with the New Jersey Orchesta and as assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Milanov technically is Music Director Designee — his four-year contract as Music Director begins in the 2015-16 season — but last night’s performance suggests he is already very much in charge. With a contagiously enthusiastic demeanor, a demonstrative conducting style, and a very cool looking quasi-Nehru jacket, Milanov led the CSO through a selection by Edward Elgar that he described as a personal favorite, a new cello concerto by Mason Bates that the Columbus Symphony helped commission and that featured some terrific playing by the talented Joshua Roman, and finally Saint-Saens’ excellent and moving Organ Symphony. Roman also unexpectedly treated us to the sublime Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 as a kind of personal encore after the Bates concerto was concluded.
It was a very enjoyable program and drew a pretty good Friday night crowd, even though the announced playlist didn’t include any of the big-name composers, like Mozart and Beethoven, who typically fill the seats. It also reminded me that, as enjoyable as classical music is on an iPod or a CD, there is nothing quite like watching a full orchestra playing in unison and experienced, and relishing, the powerful sound it produces. Kish and I decided that we need to come back to another Symphony concert soon, and we’re betting that Maestro Milanov will make our next visit an equally enjoyable one.