Jack Everly, the PSO and Cirque de la Symphonie

In a world full of politics, business, sports, and other competitive endeavors, it’s nice to take a step back from that world and occasionally experience a new artistic performance meant simply for entertainment, and based upon the incredible artistic skills of eight talented individuals accompanied by the lush symphonic sounds of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jack Everly.

Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure to take my mom, my daughter and her friend to the Cirque de la Symphonie – truly an exciting new concept, and a fabulous way to listen to the beautiful classical music being performed while watching the amazing performances and adept skills of these extremely capable aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers and strong men. The stage at Heinz Hall took on some very distinctive purple, blue and red hues for this particular performance.

Me and Mom
Me and Mom

My three companions overwhelmingly voted their favorite as Jaroslaw Marciniak and Dariusz Wronski, former Polish national hand-balancing champions. Their act was an artistic performance that was almost like a ballet in that their motions were very slow and deliberate, and the stunning effect captivated everyone, with the PSO playing Also Sprach Zarathustra and The Pines of Rome in the background. My daughter remarked that the Symphony is much better, for her, when they have something like this program to make it more entertaining. Of the music, she liked George Bizet’ “Les Toreadors” from Carmen, especially because they had recently studied that in her school’s music appreciation class, and well, because it’s such a great melody.

Personally for me, it’s hard to vote for a favorite, since every act was spectacular, and as a whole the entire program gets my vote as a favorite, but if I had to pick I’d say the acrobatics of Christine Van Loo were so, inspiring. The act consisted of two stage-height ribbons that she adroitly handled to perform amazing aerials making it seem so effortless as she ascended with spell-binding trapeze – it was like poetry in motion. The lighting was very effective, shadows of the performers would marvelously fly along the large walls out into the audience, give a wonderful effect.

Then there was Vladimir Tsarkov, the juggler, performing the ‘Red Harlequin’ act – funny and very entertaining. Being a juggler myself (purely just for fun), it was amazing to see how many balls, batons and rings he could juggle at one time.

Jack Everly, the conductor for the evening, also gets a nod of approval — he was funny and very entertaining. I’d like to see the PSO bring him back again and again. One act had the juggler bring him forth, and along with Elena Tsarkova, they would do a magic act where Jack and Elena are put into a cloth tube – Elena is tied securely with a rope – and in 20 seconds the tube is removed to reveal Jack’s coat on Elena, the ropes securely tied on top. We all wondered – how did they do that..?  Jack’s joke was to come back to see the midnight performance – with a quick ‘Whoops’ when he acknowledged the kids in the audience.

And of course the PSO itself did a great job with the music. Many of these selections I know very well, having heard them many times. The PSO played them with marvelous aplomb, and the sound came through marvelously. I wondered how they could play with all that was going on around them, especially the juggler, who was so funny.

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