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Review: Creme de la Creme concert featuring area performers is judged a success

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CEDAR FALLS, IA — Every year a happy fund-raising concert, Creme de la Creme, takes place at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. It’s sponsored by the Friends of the Gallagher-Bluedorn as a way of supporting the Performing Arts Center’s various programs. This year was the 13th annual concert, and as usual, it was a success.

The evening started off with a rousing display of energy and talent by the Sumner-Fredericksburg High School Show Choir. More than 70 enthusiastic high schoolers captivated the audience with their colorful appearance and excellent singing and dancing, under the creative direction of Noell Reynolds.

The second piece was the “Musical Moment No. 5 — Romance,” a subtle work for marimba played by Matthew Andreini. Although the marimba is considered a percussion instrument, Andreini made it sound like a lovely, quiet chorale. The beautiful tones, plus the soloist’s amazing dexterity, were quite amazing.

What many regarded as the high point of the evening was the ensemble, Floyd’s Fabulous Flutes. Three works (one of them by University of Northern Iowa professor Robert Washut) were played by six young women on flute and piccolo. Not just your standard C flute, either. We also heard bass and alto flute, as well as piccolo. To add to the charm of this delightful music, the players dressed in colorful gowns, did some fancy footwork and occasionally changed places on the stage. The skilled group was from the studio of Angelieta Floyd.

After intermission and consumption of the traditional tasty cream puffs, we were treated to the groovy strains of jazz played by Tom Barry on saxophone, plus Checker and the Bluetones, a local group led by Mike Michalicek. Barry was awesome, especially, I thought, when he played a haunting melody on soprano sax. Other members were John Thompson, John Baskerville and Steve Mark.

Jeffrey Brich favored us with four fine tenor arias, accompanied by pianist Robin Guy. Known for his splendid interpretations of vocal scores, Brich, as always, sang with clear diction and impressive breath control.

The grand musical finale kept alive the great tradition of ending with the Five Grands. These virtuoso performers this time were Dmitri Vorobieve, Polina Khatsko, Oxana Khramova, Elena Lyalin and Jessica Shick. They performed four works on (of course) five grand pianos. The four dances were familiar, and the skill of the players was nicely displayed. The speed and volume of the “Sabre Dance” created a perfect conclusion to an excellent program.

During the evening two awards were presented. The Howard V. Jones Award for Philanthropic Giving to the Arts was presented to Joel and Linda Haack. Another one was the C. Hugh Pettersen Award for Outstanding Service to the Performing Arts, which went to all of the volunteer ushers who year after year, assist the GBPAC by tirelessly and graciously guiding the audience to their proper seats.

This was a good concert. All of the performers were first class and very well received. But there was one flaw: Almost every performance was just a tad too long.

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