The Kansas City Symphony’s concert not only celebrated American music with “An Evening with Jennifer Holliday,” but also paid tribute to a great American artist, Marvin Hamlisch. Hamlisch, who died last August, originally was booked with Holliday for Friday’s pops concert.
Kansas City, MO — Vocalist Jennifer Holliday displayed a sweet demeanor with a conversational, almost confessional, manner. This gentle, seemingly introverted stage presence belied a powerful, dramatic vocal prowess and an emotional range from fresh, blossomy naiveté to full-blown righteous fireworks. She paid homage to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald, singing a medley of tunes including “A Tisket, A Tasket,” “Night and Day” and “How High the Moon.”
Holliday also talked warmly about Hamlisch, his influence in her life and career and his friendship. She became emotional during her introduction to the tribute, which featured themes from “The Way We Were” and “What I Did for Love,” followed, fittingly, by Hamlisch’s “Nobody Does It Better.”
Watch: Jennifer Holliday — “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” — Apollo 02.01.2012
Pianist Rich Ridenour performed on the first part of the program, opening with his arrangement of “Brazil” by Brazilian composer Ary Barroso, a nostalgic number with driving samba rhythms.
Watch: Brazil — Rich Ridenour, piano:
Ridenour spoke with great admiration for Hamlisch, who inspired his own musical development. Hamlisch was a prolific composer, conductor and performer; his work garnered numerous awards, including the Grammy, Tony, Oscar, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize.
TO: Kansas City Symphony, Jennifer Holliday, Conductor Stuart Chafetz, Pianist Rich Ridenour — Thank you for remembering Marvin Hamlisch! — The family of Marvin Hamlisch.