Grand Rapids Symphony

Adele Anthony
The Grand Rapids Press

It was called the devil's instrument.

There were those in the 19th century who swore they saw the Satan moving guiding his bow arm when Niccolo Paganini played violin.

Literature frequently depicts Old Scratch scratching away at a fiddle.

Don't get me started on the Charlie Daniels Band and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

So when a regularly scheduled concert just happens to fall on a holiday such as Halloween, why not simply take the pumpkin and run with it?

The Grand Rapids Symphony's Classical Series concert on Friday in DeVos Performance Hall featured serious music that just happened to be spooky and eerie stuff.

Violinist Adele Anthony was the devil with the red dress on.

Guest conductor Edwin Outwater was the sorcerer waving the magic wand.

Anthony was summoned last week when previously engaged fiddler, Stefan Jackiw, bowed out due to injury. She also was gracious enough to spend time this week with students at Grand Rapids City High School.

The native of Tasmania -- yes, another devilish reference -- has all the necessary gifts, including a rich sound and fast fingers.

Her performance of "Legend" by 19th century Polish composer and virtuoso Henri Wieniawski, who was known, among other things, for his stiff-bowing "devil's staccato," was the warm-up.

Things really flew with Camille Saint-Saens' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, one of the greatest of all fiddle show-offs. She played with a singing tone, polished arpeggios, sturdy double stops. Anthony added a measure of voltage as she took it up a notch with each return of the melody. Her standing ovation was deserved.

Outwater is music director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, a town strikingly similar to Grand Rapids -- economy, population, latitude, even a river named Grand running through it.

Outwater slipped easily into his role, conducting with sharp-edged, explosive effects. In fact, he lit a fire under the ensemble, and the audience got to enjoy the heat in Modest Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain," which most everyone knows from Walt Disney's 1940 animated film "Fantasia."

3.5 out of 4 stars

Grand Rapids Symphony

What: Classical Series

Guest Artist: Violinist Adele Anthony

Conductor: Edwin Outwater