Singer Kiana Del

March Music Madness

Louisville Orchestra
Bob Bernhardt, conductor
First Take Barbershop Quartet and Kiana Del, guest vocalists
Steve Kirkland, stadium announcer

A review by Annette Skaggs

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.

“Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to Whitney Hall…” exclaimed Steve Kirkland, the voice of the University of Louisville athletics, as we all assembled to listen to songs that lend themselves to the theme of sports. Most of you will know that March Madness is in full effect across the nation, but especially here in Kentucky where basketball is essentially a religious pastime. 

We begin with Leo Arnaud’s “Fanfare to the Olympic Games”, “Bugler’s Dream” and John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare” and “Theme”, both of which are still used to this day as an introduction to network broadcasts of the Olympic games, both Summer and Winter. Bright brass and strings that race to the finish line were a great start.

Looking at sports on the ice, while I am not familiar with any songs devoted to the sport of curling, we do have the unofficial second national anthem of Canada, “Hockey Night in Canada” by Dolores Claman, and Waldteufel’s oft-performed The Skaters’ Waltz, Op. 183, which if you are not familiar with it, can be heard in many, many cartoons, commercials, and films, such as Chariots of Fire. I had not heard “Hockey” before, and am still scratching my head as to the “hockey-ness” of it, but it has a “get the crowd ready” feel to it. As to “Waltz,” the string section alone has one dreaming of skaters doing pirouettes on a frozen Seine River. 

Speaking of the brilliant Chariots of Fire, we get to hear the theme by Vangelis. The electronica is left off this arrangement, and I prefer this unplugged rendition. 

Yet, you cannot have a sports-themed performance without a nod to the sport of kings, especially in Derbytown. The Barbershop Quartet Group First Take came on stage and gave us a fun acappella “Fugue for Tinhorns” from Frank Loesser’s very successful Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. Morton Gould’s Flourishes and Galop was a new to me piece with an interesting notation of a “flourished” Call to the Post from the brass section and a barely noticeable nod to Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Rounding out the first half of the evening we delved into the worlds of golf and boxing using Kenneth Alford’s “Colonel Bogey’s March”, made famous by the movie Bridge Over the River Kwai, complete with off-key whistling from the audience and a special appearance by local singer and radio personality Kiana Del and her interpretation of Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You”. By and large Ms. Del did a nice job, but the musical key may not have been in the most comfortable of range for her voice. 

Of course, when one thinks of boxing there is but one movie and theme song that comes to mind, Bill Conti’s Highlights from Rocky. Our orchestra certainly had us ready to go climb those famous front steps and raise our hands in the air.

At the close of part one of the evening, many in the audience raised their “L’s” up as the Louisville Orchestra, along with leadership from Steve Kirkland, played a rousing rendition of R. B. Griffith’s “Fight UofL!”

While growing up, Bob Bernhardt lived by the three B’s, Bach, Baseball, and The Beatles. He wanted to be a professional baseball player. While a career on the diamond did not quite work, we are grateful that he traded in the mitt for a baton. 

So, in his inimitable style, Bernhardt programmed the second half of the evening towards songs of America’s Pastime, such as Sousa’s “The National Game March”, complete with a well-played baseball bat solo.

But we began with the audience on their feet and First Take coming out to sing
“The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Heart” from Damn, Yankees! I had almost forgotten how fun that song is and their four-part harmonies were on the daring side.

James Horner’s “The Place Where Dreams Come True” from Field of Dreams and Randy Newman’s Suite from The Natural served as bookends to a fun choice of Louis Prima’s “Swing, Swing, Swing”. As Bernhardt shared, “Any chance to play Prima.” I could not agree more and our orchestra was jumpin’ and a jivin’ to the beat. A big nod to our percussionist who wailed on the drum kit.

Along came the seventh inning stretch and we all sang along to Albert Von Tilzer’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, and Richard Hayman’s collective of patriotic songs titled Sing Out, America!

What would have made the evening even more fun would be a person meandering through the crowd, with a crate attached to their front, yelling, “Get Your Peanuts, Popcorn, Cracker-Jacks here!!!!”

Bravi Tutti!!

March Music Madness

March  16, 2024

Louisville Orchestra
Kentucky Center
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York, and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career, she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over 25+ years of experience in the classical arts.