The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s ReMix series mixes many things — drinks, musicians and patrons, electric-blue shoes and black outfits. It all comes together to create a colorful musical experience.
The laid-back affair delivers refinement and fun, showcasing modern pieces amid some of the most recognizable works in the classical canon. The Friday event committed to an Italian theme (accented with, yes, meatballs in the lobby). Rossini’s Barber of Seville opened for modern composer Luciano Berio’s series of folk songs and the same composer’s reimagining of Franz Schubert, bookended with Rossini’s "William Tell Overture."
ReMix started about five years ago and takes place in the intimate Moody Performance Hall, which seats 500, as opposed to the Meyerson, which holds almost 3,000. The dress ranges from casual to fancy, the age range skews younger and drinking can happen in the hall. These are Dallas Symphony Orchestra assistant conductor Ruth Reinhardt’s favorite concerts to attend and conduct.
“After the concert, the musicians come out in the lobby, and there’s always just nice mingling and chatting to the audience, which gives it a really nice feel,” she says. “I love to go back outside afterward and just have a glass of wine or beer and chat to people.”
Launched as a way to attract a new and younger audience to the DSO, the series has been largely successful in its mission, Chelsey Norris, communications manager of the DSO, says.
“In the five years since its introduction, we’ve seen an increase in new patrons at ReMix concerts and at traditional DSO concerts,” Norris says.
Taking a break from tuxedos and Mahler, the DSO’s programs for ReMix sometimes leap into the adventurous, pairing Debussy with dancers, for example. Reinhardt’s favorite was playing selections from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream interspersed with actors performing parts of Shakespeare’s play.
Reinhardt, who obtained her master’s from Juilliard and has a distinctive German accent, on Friday deftly led the orchestra through the set she helped mastermind. The standout pieces were Berio’s modern folk songs, which Reinhardt says explore “the joys and miseries — sometimes miseries — mysteries of love.”
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Heavy on mystery, the vignettes included a great deal of scratchy flute, chirpy winds and somber violas. Berio’s “Rendering,” another high point, re-created Schubert’s unfinished sketches of his 10th Symphony by filling in the blank spaces with novel musical interpretations that drift in provocative directions in a completely different style. Pieces of Schubert melted into atmospheric sounds, as though Schubert fell asleep and dreamed he woke up in the 1990s, and ran into John Cage.
The patrons’ palpable enjoyment of Friday’s performance culminated in a standing ovation after a rampaging "William Tell Overture."
The only complaint — a small one — is that the venue faintly recalls the homely, low-budget look of a high school auditorium; the Meyerson might have served better. The choice of venue does, however, rightfully reflect the high-low cultural synthesis the series aims to achieve.
If you’ve ever sat through a symphony feeling distanced and distracted, the informality and fun of the ReMix might be just the thing you need.