Rachleff bids fond farewell to Philharmonic
Oh, what a night!
After 21 glorious years as music director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Larry Rachleff bid farewell to Rhode Island with a concert that had the sold-out audience on its collective feet, showing its appreciation for over two decades of quality leadership.
The evening opened with a dreamlike performance of Debussy’s “The Afternoon of a Fawn” and was followed by Canteloube’s “Songs of the Auvergne,” with guest soloist Susan Lorette Dunn joining her husband on the Vets stage.
Who would have thought that Rachleff would turn out to be the funniest comedian to ever hit the Vets boards?
In what was certainly a sad evening, saying “good-bye” to the beloved maestro, Rachleff grabbed the microphone to tell the audience that “Susan’s dress just got undressed” and there would be a slight delay as her “wardrobe malfunction” was attended to.
“So I’ll talk just a little bit,” Larry said. “So three guys go into a bar…”
Jay Leno never got the laughs that Larry Rachleff received in the following five minutes, as he ad-libbed his way by telling a personal (and hilarious) story about a naked woman in a French hotel lobby.
After intermission, the orchestra performed Richard Strauss’ “An Alpine Symphony,” a difficult and intricate 54-minute “Testament to Nature” that Rachleff described as “soul music.”
The tone poem was a perfect ending to Rachleff’s 21 years of inspirational leadership, challenging the orchestra and the audience to “listen to the massive, opaque sound with every note of the minor scale present”
At first, I was overwhelmed with the piece, but soon became mesmerized, especially when some unusual instruments were introduced. We wondered what the floor-to-ceiling sheet of metal was up stage and learned that it was a “wind machine,” similar to those used in the theatre to give the feeling of a thunderstorm.
After prolonged applause and some short speeches, Rachleff gave his thank you and good-bye, urging the audience to hang around for 15 minutes or so for his traditional Q and A session.
Usually a hundred or so people gather close to the stage, so Rachcleff was overwhelmed when just about every seat downstairs was filled, as husband, wife and son Sammy talked intimately with an adoring audience.
Rachleff’s final word to the audience was a plea to continue to support the Rhode Island Philharmonic, leaving us with the strong possibility of returning as a guest conductor.