Jack Everly led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with special guest Ann Hampton Callaway in a Barbra Streisand-inspired evening in Bethesda, MD last night at Strathmore. Interspersed with anecdotes about Streisand’s influence on her own life (including the time she wrote a song for Streisand’s wedding), Callaway sang a variety of well-known Streisand tunes in her own sultry and jazzy way, bringing a little bit of Streisand’s glamour to Bethesda.
Known to Pops audiences for her performance with the BSO in the 2009 Holiday Spectacular, Ann Hampton Callaway is a Tony-nominated actress and singer-songwriter, as well as a huge fan of Barbra Streisand. Callaway has written some of Streisand’s most popular songs, and is a popular jazz singer, touring the country with her concerts, delighting audiences of all ages. Similarly, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Jack Everly, is known for their entertaining and enjoyable concerts, a reputation they more than lived up to tonight.
This evening, titled The Streisand Songbook, began with three selections from the Pops alone, including a medley of 22 Irving Berlin songs and the Cole Porter song “Just One of Those Things,” played expertly by the Pops. Everly is indeed a maestro, conducting the symphony in such a way that their technical expertise is outshined only by their clear joy and passion in playing.
After the Pops played the overture to Funny Girl, they were then joined onstage by Callaway, as she sang a variety of familiar songs made famous by Barbra Streisand, including “A Sleepin’ Bee” and “The Way We Were,” interspersed with interesting anecdotes about Streisand, before ending the first half with her own version of “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” Callaway is a passionate singer with a beautiful, jazzy voice; she is reminiscent of Streisand yet still distinctly her own singer. Her version of Streisand’s hit “Evergreen” was not the familiar standard the audience was expecting, but rather it was a jazz arrangement, which in Callaway’s smooth-as-silk voice allowed the audience to appreciate it in an entirely new way. he evening was not just a tribute to Streisand, but truly a re-interpretation of Streisand’s canon in Callaway’s expert hands—and voice.
Callaway excels not just at interpreting Streisand’s songs; she is a charismatic and funny performer in her own right. The highlight of the evening was when Callaway, playing off her reputation as a songwriter, invited the audience to help her write a new song for Streisand—a song with a distinctly Bethesda flavor. The audience shouted out suggestions for characters in the song and the storyline, ending up with an older woman politician who goes to a bar and ends up wooing a young lobbyist by singing to him. Callaway truly showed off her great improvisational skills by creating on the spot this witty and entertaining song, using all the elements suggested by the audience, and in doing so, brought down the house.
Ending the night with the famous “A Piece of Sky” from Yentl and performing a medley of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” and “Happy Days are Here Again” for her encore, Callaway ensured that happy days were indeed here again, if just for one night, in her delightfully engaging concert.
Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.
The Streisand Songbook played on October 10, 2013 at The Music Center at Strarthmore – – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For tickets for future Strathmore events, go to their website. The Streisand Songbook plays through Saturday, October 12, 2013 at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall – 1212 Cathedral Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 783-8000, or purchase them online.
Ann Hampton Callaway’s website.