Pianist Ron McEntire Drenched In Praise

A prophet may be without honor in his own land, but one local musician ended a Sunday afternoon performance drenched in praise.

Pianist Ron McEntire performed the solo parts of ”Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25,” by Felix Mendelssohn, with the accompaniment of the Jamestown Community Orchestra, and the nearly filled auditorium of Jamestown High School resounded with ovation after ovation.

The all-volunteer orchestra performs concerts each spring and each fall. Usually they perform at First Covenant Church, in Jamestown, but the availability of the excellent piano at JHS and the size of the anticipated audience inspired the temporary move to the high school.

The orchestra normally programs music which is especially popular with the public, typically straddling the division between light classical and popular music. This concert leaned most heavily on the classical side, and the combination of the more demanding music and the outstanding example of the soloist inspired especially fine performances from the members of the orchestra, as well.

Conductor Andrew D. Coccagnia served as narrator of the program, as well. He started the program with the first movement of ”Symphony No. 9 in C Major,” by Franz Schubert, which the 47 participating instrumentalists gave a fine reading. There followed the overture to Giacomo Rossini’s opera ”William Tell,” from which even those who don’t normally listen to formal music recognize the theme song from the popular ”Lone Ranger” radio and television programs.

The first half of the program ended with the ”Artist’s Life Waltz,” by Johann Strauss, and then a medley of big band-style jazz from the pen of Duke Ellington.

Following intermission, the piano was rolled to center stage, and McEntire began the concerto. The work has only a very brief orchestral introduction before the soloist enters, strongly and with no build-up, but at full force, from the very first. The music requires complex and extremely intricate performance, and the piano then leads the orchestra headlong, in an energetic and melodically lush rush to the conclusion.

McEntire’s performance was strong and energetic, and could only be called utterly professional. It was delightful.

So strong was the audience’s enthusiasm that the soloist offered as an encore Mozart’s showy theme and 12 Variations on ”Ah Vous Dirai-Je, Maman,” which the public certainly recognized under the title ”Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

It was a pleasure to once again attend a fine performance in the beautifully decorated auditorium, and to enjoy its lively acoustics, which enhanced the performance.

The next performance by the Jamestown Community Orchestra will be Oct. 19 at 4 p.m., when they will perform at First Covenant Church, in downtown Jamestown.