Phenomenal Storm Large makes MSO season finale unforgettable

04.11.16
Storm Large
Midland Daily News

The phenomenal talents of Storm Large and an unusual Kurt Weill song cycle made for a memorable season-ending concert for the Midland Symphony Orchestra.

Whatever one may recall of her appearance on a reality TV show nearly a decade ago or her numerous other projects, her performance Saturday night was a revelation. Not only did she provide just the right dramatic angst for Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins,” she also performed three encores that showcased her gift for writing and delivering thoughtful songs.

It was an unforgettable evening.

The Weill work is musically interesting, contrasting often boisterous and occasionally even circus-like passages with the depressing tale of two sisters (or possibly just one woman with a split personality) making their way across America, earning money so their family can build a new little cottage back home in Louisiana.

Large and the MSO were joined in this piece by Hudson Shad, a New York-based quartet playing the family of Anna I/Anna II.

There was no problem understanding Large. She immersed herself so fully in the work that one could grasp the tragic conflict within the character(s). She brought the right touch of bitter irony to Anna I’s relentless goading and pushing of her sister to earn money, the “realistic” sister’s rationalizing of being her sister’s pimp.

The MSO was vibrant in its performance of Weill’s music, again displaying the ensemble’s versatility. This dark and offbeat piece was one of the highlights of the MSO season.

Large’s encores were, if anything, even more impressive than her controlled, nuanced embrace of Weill’s song cycle. Two of the three encores were her original songs.

“A Woman’s Heart” is a haunting ballad about a woman explaining to her lover, “You’ll never know a woman’s heart, just can’t see that far, down such a long and pretty road, that you’ll never go.” Playing a ukulele, Large had concertgoers on the edge of their seats with a quiet, intense power.

A pop-rock reimagining of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” brought out an unexpected obsessive menace in the lyrics. Hudson Shad added backing vocals and the MSO provided soaring support for Large’s singular, passionate and totally persuasive version of a standard that will never sound quite the same again.

She closed the show with another original song, “Stand Up for Me,” a beautiful and moving song in support of marriage equality which brought tears to some in attendance.

Large said that when she was asked to write the song, she initially puzzled over the song but finally wondered, “What would love ask?” “Love” is the narrator: “Stand up for me, and I’ll stand beside you. I’m the light that guides you from inside you and everyone.”

The concert was a welcome reminder of the power of music to engage the mind and stir the heart.
 
Read the rest of the review here