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Marvelous Midday Music

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The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's Lunch Break Series premiered last Thursday with a concert of Great American Classics. The ISO treated patrons to four selections from Aaron Copeland's Rodeo. Then they wheeled out the Steinway for piano soloist Eric Zuber, who went to town on George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

Even though the Hilbert Circle Theatre maintained its sophisticated air as a venue, its ambience differed greatly from that of its typical evening performances. For one, the attire was purely informal. Looking around I saw women wearing jean shorts, capris pants, T-shirts and tennis shoes, though some added kicky heels to their casual getups. The men sported shorts, jeans, sandals and tees as well -- and those were the musicians on stage.

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra aims to attract a downtown audience with its 30- to 40-minute Lunch Break concerts. - CONNOR O'MALIA
  • Connor O'Malia
  • The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra aims to attract a downtown audience with its 30- to 40-minute Lunch Break concerts.

When the Assistant Conductor of the ISO, David Glover stepped to the maestro podium to welcome the noon crowd, he pointed out that the ISO hopes to bring to everyone a nice, laid-back experience with this summer series of 30- to 40-minute concerts. He encouraged patrons to enjoy the music and their lunch, if they brought it. "But if it's a quiet moment during a number, you'll want to hold off on that potato chip for just a minute," he said.

It appeared that most people attended for the music alone, but some tucked in to their lunches as if they were bellied up to a bar, watching the tube. In the end, everyone seemed to enjoy the experience, as indicated by the rousing applause and standing ovation.

A friend of mine joined me for the midday musical break, mostly because Rhapsody in Blue remains his all-time favorite piece of music -- but also because really, what better way to spend a lunch hour? And did I mention the tickets are only five bucks?

 "I enjoyed everything about that performance -- from the time of day to the casualness," he said. "And they proved that you don't have to be in tuxes and gowns to play great. The performance of Rhapsody in Blue was one of the best and most playful I've seen."

The theater opens to guests starting at 11:30 a.m., and the concert begins at 12:15 p.m. This summer series is brief. Many seats were filled last week, so if you hope to attend one of the remaining performances, don't delay. And finally, my last words of advice: Unless you work downtown and can stroll there, or shell out almost $10 at a nearby parking garage, plan for 15 or 20 additional minutes to find parking (and allow for walking time, in case your search only turns up a space a block or two away), because Monument Circle is a happening spot around lunchtime -- especially if there's event taking place. 

The remaining concerts in the series include the following:

June 26 -- The Power of Russia
It will feature Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. And, as a special bonus, 14-year-old violinist Nathan Meltzer will perform Tchaikovsky selections. Meltzer is the winner of the Ben & Illene Komisarow Maurer Young Musicians contest.

July 3 --  A Musical Salute to America

July 10 -- Beethoven's Seventh Symphony

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