It was an awesome clear, gorgeous night with the Austin Symphony’s ‘Your Night Out‘ and the current season’s finale. Gabriela Montero appeared taller than expected in a cute dress over black dress pants, and gave a big welcome to all the Venezuelans (where she’s from) that came out to see her. Austin is definitely a cultural hub. She said it was her first time in Austin and ‘people really are so friendly’. If you were expecting a serious classical performance, you were in for a surprise. Before the performance began, when the overhead announcements began about silencing your phone, blah, blah, blah, her voice magically appeared and turned it into a funny monologue threatening to deport offenders to Minsk if they broke the rules. During the entire show, Montero engaged the audience with humor, friendliness and sarcasm. She’s apparently not soft-spoken or timid. Refreshing from a concert pianist. Known for her amazing gift of improvising classical piano melodies into current or popular music on the spot, Montero uses innovative twists, reinventing old classics. At her shows, she asks the audience to suggest a song that everyone knows – ours picked the obvious “The Eyes Of Texas”- the original UT school spirit song we all know and love. The pianist almost instantly transformed the song, which is set to the tune of the classic “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” If you haven’t heard or seen her, it’s difficult to explain. She starts out with a nice sonata, then adds a bit of ragtime (Charlie Chaplin style) then classical, and other metamorphoses. Truly amazing. No one else does what she does. Although the audience most likely wanted to see more of her (she only appeared during part of the show) the entire performance was deeply satisfying and I continue to be impressed with our Symphony. If you haven’t had a night out to our Performing Arts Center/The Long Center, I suggest either a nice food truck snack prior to the show (although a nice meal at La Condesa would do nicely too) around the corner at the Barton Springs ‘The Picnic’ Food Truck Court, then catching a show, finally swinging back by Hey Cupcake for dessert afterwards. (https://www.facebook.com/thepicnicaustin). At the end of the night, looking at the stars and the colorful and changing Austin skyline, all I could think was how enriched our lives were from the experience and ‘Thank God for music” swirled around in my head. I can’t imagine life without it.
Read more about Montero from NPR at http://www.npr.org/artists/15182398/gabriela-montero.