Daniel Rodriguez in Concert with the Evansville Philharmonic
Rebecca Coudret, Oct 4-5 2003
Over the years, there have been a lot of truly great Pops Concerts in Evansville. Great guests. Great performances. Great musical selections. But of them all, Saturday night's season-opening concert surely was the best. Absolutely the finest, the most emotional, most beautifully performed, most musically satisfying of them all.
For that night, there was only one tenor who mattered--and for the 1500 in the audience at The Victory, Daniel Rodriguez was that tenor.
Dubbed the "singing policeman" from his vocal appearances at countless post 9/11 tributes and memorial services, Rodriguez is so much more than just one of "New York City's finest" who can sing. He is a strong
steady expressive tenor whose lower notes are filled with emotion - and whose high notes soar to the rafters.
Saturday he sang with heart and soul--and wit; he seemed to be genuinely appreciative of the absolutely stellar sounds from the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonic Chorus. And make no mistake about it; This concert was wonderful because it was a total concert package from beginning to end.
The orchestra was splendid, opening with John Williams' "Liberty Fanfare" a spirited yet dignified play of the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986.
After a "Tribute to the Big Apple" ( and Rodriguez) filled with a cascading range of tempos and traffic sounds, confusion and well-known New York related tunes, the evening's guest took to the stage. Even those of us familiar with Rodriguez's talent had no idea just how wonderful he would be.
He opened with "This is the Moment" from the Frank Wildhorn/Leslie Bricusse musical "Jeckell & Hyde,"an emotional, beautiful piece that showcased both his upper and lower registers. With "Into the Fire" a piece sung in honor of police, fire and emergency workers, Rodriguez had as much quality in his expressiveness as his voice; we could see he was feeling the lyrics as deeply as the melody. "Be My Love" the Mario Lanza standard was next; it was satisfying to hear Rodriguez put the same emotional touches into the song as the great Lanza did. He closed the first half of the program with two Latin-beat selections,"Solamente Una Vez" and "Jurame." While the former was, perhaps the more melodic of
the two, the later showed off his voice a bit more.
(After the break) Rodriguez returned, with a heartfelt "Con Te Partiro" that allowed his beautiful voice to soar. Next, he took the often-heard "You'll Never Walk Alone"and turned it into a heartfelt tribute to American servicemen and women. And then, as Rodriguez said it was time to share the gift God gave him. He sang "The Lord's Prayer," and he was so mesmerizing, and the orchestra so nearly perfect, that it almost seemed the chorus slipped in without notice until the full glory of its voices came through.
Heads were shaking. People were rubbing away goose bumps and tears. "America the Beautiful" was next---and--and I can only pray that you'll be in the audience today to hear what he does with the Tom Scott arrangement of the patriotic piece. Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth then joined Rodriguez in singing "God Bless America," and the two brought down the house. Rodriguez's encore was a treat for anyone who loves music. He tackled and nailed one of the toughest and most-loved arias in opera: Nessun Dorma." The total concert package was the best. Purely, simply the best.