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Cory Chisel, Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra mesh well together

Mar. 15, 2014

When crossing genres for a concert performance, as, for example, when a pop group performs with a classically trained symphony, two elements are of an absolute necessity; good material up front, and well-crafted supporting arrangements for the orchestra.

Both were evident as Wisconsin native Cory Chisel returned to Appleton with his band, The Wandering Sons, for a performance Saturday with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

Chisel, with the FVSO, performed a dozen of his songs, a collection spanning his professional career as songwriter and performing artist. Symphony cellist, Heather Anderson, was assigned the task of arranging and orchestrating these pieces for the program, a project she accomplished with great success.

The opening set featured three songs, “Lovers & Friends,” “My Heart Would Be There” and “Getting By.” Immediately one was drawn to not only the diversity in style of Chisel’s writing, but also the clarity of his voice, his expressive interpretation, and his sense of being at ease with the audience.

The orchestra then played a piece on their own, Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to “The Barber of Seville”, offering the audience a reminder of Saturday mornings watching Bugs Bunny cartoons.
Chisel and band returned for his second set with the orchestra, which included “New Orleans,” “Pale Blue Dress” and “Hang Your Head Down.”

His performance of “Pale Blue Dress” might have been the highlight of the evening. With this beautifully written and sensitive ballad, Chisel showed the elegance of his voice as he skillfully crooned the lyrics, offering true meaning to the words.

Two pieces by the band, without the orchestra, finished the first half, and a couple more, played on their own, opened the second.
The orchestra’s cello section joined in for “It Won’t Be Long,” another lovely, well-written ballad. Using only cellos as the band’s accompaniment added to its charm.

The full orchestra returned for renditions of “So Wrong For Me,” “Home in the Woods,” “Curious Thing,” “Angel of Mine” and an instrumental version of Chisel’s popular “Born Again,” where symphony members were asked to stand, dance and encourage the audience to join in.

An encore performance of “Born Again” was performed, this time with Chisel offering the lyrics.

- James Chaudoir, For Post-Crescent Media

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