Friday, February 05, 2010

Exotic music and semi-exotic foods

Last night, I had one of my periodical evenings of refreshing my spirit. I had a ticket to the Symphony, and so treated myself to a nice meal first. I chose Niko's Southside Grill. The Niko of the title is, in fact, one of my former students - Nick purchased the restaurant in 2007 when it was known as just the Southside Grill. I hadn't been to Niko's in a while, and the local paper carried a story about their evolving menu recently that intrigued me. They've just added a wood burning oven, and Nick is making the restaurant over into a more "Greek" atmosphere.

They've added a bunch of "small plates" (hasn't everybody??) - and a few sounded yummy. But, it was a cold rainy night, so the site of soup on the menu was welcome. I had their tomato bisque - spiced up with basil - and it was quite good. As I said, perfect for this evening. For my main course, I went back and forth over several options - finally deciding on a lamb burger cooked in that new oven. Yum! Really well flavored and cooked just right. Add in the "Greek fries" - and it was a great twist on the old burger and fry combo.

Feeling full and warm, it was time to head to the Tivoli Theatre for the evening's performance. The conductor has decided to retire, and so we have had a series of guest conductors this year who are auditioning for the job. Tonight's guest was Mei-Ann Chen

Wow!! What an incredible performance. She was energetic, athletic, charismatic - and conducted without a score in front of her, totally from memory. The first act featured Dvorak's Carnival Overture (which is really loud and boisterous) and Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphis on Themes of Weber (which I'd never heard - kind of fun). But the piece de resistence was the second half: Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. It was magical - she coaxed the orchestra to a viruoso performance. As the last note faded, there was about 30 seconds of silence in the theater - finally broken with a shouted "Bravo" from the balcony. Then the place exploded in applause.

I would say that the evening made Ms. Chen a favorite for the job!

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