David Rodeback's Blog

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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Monday, February 20, 2006
A Late, Exquisite Valentine

Notes on a late valentine, featuring a fine restaurant, a favorite bookstore chain, and two first-rate musical ensembles.

My favorite American Fork city councilor and I left most of our Valentine's Day celebration until Saturday evening, because there was a City Council meeting on Valentine's Day. When the time came, and after a very slow drive up I-15 on miles of black ice, we had a superb dinner at The Roof in downtown Salt Lake City (in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the old Hotel Utah). The food was even better than the view, which isn't always the case when a restaurant boasts a great view. Then, after browsing briefly at Borders en route, we spent the rest of the evening at beautiful Abravanel Hall. There, under the baton of Associate Conductor Scott O'Neil, the Utah Symphony mostly played backup for the King's Singers, a six-man British vocal ensemble with nearly a 30-year history. (They are well known and much loved in Utah.)

The Symphony played a few short pieces on their own, but I can't tell you what, because they weren't in the printed program, and I didn't quite recognize them. It was a concert in the Symphony's pops series, so things were a little less formal than usual. The conductor himself could easily have identified them without breaching some rule of highbrow etiquette. Oh, well. Whatever they were, they were excellent. The Symphony had a clean, tight sound. I have heard the Utah Symphony many times; they have never disappointed.

The sheer beauty and near-perfection of a professional symphonic performance has to be good for the soul, right?

Speaking of good for the soul, I have heard the King's Singers in concert several times, in Utah and New York. This includes my first date with the aforementioned favorite city councilor. Saturday evening's program ranged broadly as usual, from folk songs of the British Isles, through Gabriel Faure, to several Paul Simon pieces. I almost thought the six gentlemen were a bit tired Saturday evening, from the less than perfect timing of their playful banter with the audience. But I'm not sure it showed at all vocally -- and even if it had, an off night for the King's Singers must be practically perfect.

Somehow, the King's Singers are always the same but always different. As far as I'm concerned, they are the state of the a capella vocal art, besides being first-rate showmen. Two encores hardly seemed enough, but one doesn't want to be greedy.

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