February 4, 2002
Concert review: Music, sports unite salutes Olympics
By Mary Ellyn Hutton

The Cincinnati Post

Betcha can't name who wrote music for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
Cincinnati Pops conductor Erich Kunzel can. He also knows who did the honors for the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, even the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

It was all part of the Pops' ''Olympic Spirit'' concert Sunday night at Music Hall. Timed in anticipation of the Salt Lake City Games, the program featured guests from the world of sport.

There were ice dancers Kimberly Navarro and Robert Shmalo, sixth-place winners in last month's U.S. Figure Skating Championship and alternates in Salt Lake City, archer and two-time Olympic gold medalist Darrell Pace, and students from the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy, whose members have been on gold medal-winning teams.

Famed aerialist Alexander Streltsov (Cirque Ingenieux, Cirque du Soleil), did double duty, filling in for acrobats Darek and Jarek with a white-draped, muscular enactment of John Williams' ''Olympic Fanfare,'' then capping the show with a high-flying interpretation of Williams' theme from ''Superman.'' (Jarek has a dislocated shoulder, but the duo intends to perform on next Sunday's repeat, the Pops said.)

Musical guests included vocalists Betsy Wolfe and Keldon Price of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the Cincinnati Brass Band, who lent weight and sheen to the Pops


Ms. Navarro and Cincinnati native Shmalo glided gracefully to the familiar ''Skater's Waltz'' on a synthetic surface in front of the orchestra. Fellow Cincinnatian Pace livened up Rossini's ''William Tell'' Overture by popping balloons mounted on a target adjacent to the cellos, carefully avoiding both them and Kunzel's picture on the target.

Pops pianist Julie Spangler pounded out ''Linus and Lucy'' from ''A Charlie Brown Christmas'' as the young gymnasts did flips and floor routines inspired by the Peanuts cartoons (complete with Lucy pulling away the football from Charlie Brown). Conducting from the keyboard, Kunzel deftly performed themes from ''Chariots of Fire.''

Oh yes, those past Olympic composers. In 1992 it was Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose mellifluous ''Amigos Para Siempre'' was sung with zest by Ms. Wolfe and Price. Calgary winter was Canadian David Foster's pop styled ''Olympics,'' again with pianist Ms. Spangler. And 1932? It was Czech classical composer Josef Suk's ''Toward a New Life.''


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