“Concerto for Piano and Orchestra: In Truth”

…But the newest and most exciting musical adventure of the evening was Richman’s own original composition — “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra: In Truth,” with guest pianist Jeffery Biegel. When the conductor explained the thought behind the three movements of his piece, titled “To One’s Self,” “To One’s World” and “To One’s Spirit,” and how it was about the soul’s inner journey and finding one’s metaphysical place in the universe, it all sounded a bit New Agey and precious and one almost expected them to roll out a Moog synthesizer or perhaps a sitar instead of a grand piano.

But surprise, surprise his composition — starting with a clarion trumpet fanfare — was every bit as robust, focused and “American” as any of the other pieces played that evening. With a very bluesy Gershwin-esque theme running through it, the composition was multi-layered and textured; at times melodic and romantic at other times dissonant, dramatic, challenging and fragmented with so much going on — including some clattering percussives — it was easy to lose one’s way. That seemed to be the point, actually, and let’s face it, who hasn’t been there.

But again and again, Richman returns to his core theme — da-da-dee, dum, dee dum — and it was like seeing a light through the forest leading us back to something familiar and safe. Biegel’s commanding piano also was a well-lit pathway through this lovely, evocative piece and both he and the composer received a well-earned standing ovation as did the whole orchestra for interpreting this and the evening’s other compositions played so beautifully.