Review: Fairfax Symphony Orchestra: ‘An Enchanted Evening’

It really was quite “An Enchanted Evening” at GMU’s Center for the Arts on March 12, 2016 as Mary Michael Patterson and Hayley Travers, accompanied by the Fairfax Orchestra under the baton of Luke Frazier, sang their way through the American Songbook.

With deft quotes and anecdotes told by Luke Frazier in-between songs, and Travers and Patterson’s beautiful voices, all the old standards seemed to be made new.

Conductor Luke Frazier.

Conductor Luke Frazier.

Luke Frazier, a “rapidly rising star in the Pops world,” is in his second full season as the Principal Pops Conductor of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.  Founder of the American Pops Orchestra and the National Broadway Chorus in Washington, DC, Mr. Frazier’s “commitment to re-envisioning pops programming has quickly established him as a dynamic force across the music community,” as evidenced by tonight’s performance.

Mary Michael Patterson has starred on Broadway in a variety of shows, including The Phantom of the Opera, The Sound of Music, and Anything Goes, using her gorgeous soprano voice to delight audiences all across the country. Hayley Travers, a Fairfax Symphony favorite, has performed as a soloist all across the region, including at the Kennedy Center.

Mary Michael Patterson. Photo by Robert Petkoff.

Mary Michael Patterson. Photo by Robert Petkoff.

The evening opened with the orchestra playing alone, the lushness of their sound belying their small numbers. Frazier’s spirited and fully-engaged conducting style really helped imbue the orchestra with energy, especially in songs like “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby” and “Come On A My House.”

Mary Michael Patterson brought her lovely, bright soprano to bear on such standards as “The Nearness of You” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The purity and delicacy of her voice was very apparent as she made each standard her own, but she really shone when given the chance to use her lower register, on such pieces as “What’ll I Do” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The warmth of her voice was just hauntingly beautiful.

Haley Travers. Photo courtesy of her website.

Haley Travers. Photo courtesy of her website.

In contrast, Hayley Travers seemed as if she’d stepped right out of a 1940s big band, with her brassy, throaty voice and sexy renditions of “Steam Heat” and “Whatever Lola Wants.”  She seemed to hold nothing back as she charmed the audience with her humor and jazzy voice.  As she acted the songs, rather than just merely singing them, she left her own indelible stamp on them.

Yet the highlight of the night came near the end, when Travers and Patterson sang together with the orchestra.Their carefree, light rendition of “Que Sera Sera” was fun and jaunty, but the combined power and beauty of their voices was most apparent in their duet of “Some Enchanted Evening.” It was the perfect way to end what was indeed an enchanted evening with the fantastic Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.

Running Time:  One hour and 45 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.

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Fairfax Symphony Orchestra: An Enchanted Evening was performed for one night only on March 12, 2016 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts – 4373 Mason Pond Drive, in Fairfax, VA . For future events, go to the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra’s website.

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