Community, Culture, Music

Orchestra combines baroque, Beatles music for sake of peace

​The Miami Symphony Orchestra, in a bid to attract new audiences to the world of classical music, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in Miami with a concert highlighting the charm, energy and versatility of their iconic works.

Sunday evening’s event also served to promote the new “Make Your Own Peace” initiative, a new charity program designed to empower individual action toward peace. Featured vocalists included American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, and newcomer Haven Star, billed as “the voice of peace.”

The evening started out wonderfully, with a tour through the sections and instruments of a traditional orchestra in The Beatles’ music. It was delightful to hear “Penny Lane” with live trumpets, a gloriously intense rendition of “Eleanor Rigby” for the violins, and a strangely dignified tuba performance of “When I’m Sixty-Four.”

The Vivaldi-inspired “Beatles go Baroque” was also dazzling. While the band’s tunes were still recognizable underneath the baroque flourishes, it was a fantastic way to ease new listeners into more classical styles, and Vivaldi’s high energy suits the Beatles well.

Sadly, sections involving vocals were less stunning. Ruben Studdard’s interpretation of “Imagine” was saccharine and inane, and paired with the pleas for support and donations for the new charity initiative, it came across as somewhat disingenuous. He did slightly better with “On the Long and Winding Road,” but seemed to be profoundly uncomfortable, repeatedly mopping up his sweat.

​I hesitate to say anything poor about Haven Star. She has a beautiful voice, and has a promising career ahead of her. I would however, question her use in the show. The repeated insistence that she was “the voice of peace” felt like a pushy sales pitch. In addition, that claim introduced what was to be a long series of frankly uncomfortable racial politics to her performance.

Singing, as a white American, in a position of global leadership, in and of itself would be slightly awkward. But to do so with a heavily gospel-influenced vocal style, while being backed by both a prominent African-American star in Studdard, and a full African-American choir, landed her entire performance into whole new territories of discomfort. It shows a lack of forethought on the part of the concert organizers, and was a glaring disappointment.

The performance also seemed a tad under rehearsed, presenters tripping over their speeches and backpedaling to cover missed lines. In addition, a few technical glitches plagued the evening, including one issue with the piano lift that left a baffled, increasingly restless audience sitting in the dark with no explanation for five minutes.

Despite issues, the concert still was noble in its efforts, and managed to provide a charming evening’s entertainment. Pops concerts at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts are always fun, if nothing else, and this proved no exception. Bringing music, and this time, perhaps peace, has to be applauded, even when it doesn’t quite stick the landing.


November 21, 2014


Blake Weil

Around the Web

The University of Miami community is invited to participate in several events to discuss crucial topics regarding social justice and racial equality, explored in Ijeoma Oluo’s best-seller. ...

University writing experts weigh in on the inaugural poem, written and recited by Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old U.S. youth poet laureate. ...

The number of ambassadors has been increased from 75 to 100 as the University continues to support a safe environment and help students adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. ...

The series—which will feature experts discussing their groundbreaking research on corals, ocean and atmospheric science, and how climate change is forcing communities to alter their long-range plans—will begin this week. ...

Octavia Bridges—a 20-year veteran of the University of Miami Police Department and the first Black woman to serve as a lieutenant—has been promoted to oversee crime prevention and community relations on the Coral Gables Campus. ...

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.