An icon is an artist whose output transcends the divide between the popular of today and the perennially admired. At the Holland Center on Friday night the Omaha Symphony told the story of Barbra Streisand’s life as a musical icon, through the lens of songs made beloved by her career, in a set conceived and performed by the fantastic Ann Hampton Callaway.
Ernest Richardson, the Omaha Symphony’s Resident Conductor, lead the orchestra. As is typical of the ensemble the transformation from Masterwork to Hollywood and Broadway, was seamless. They were stylish, exciting, and gorgeous.
The rhythm combo completed the instrumental collaboration deliciously. Mark Kurtz on keyboard, James Giles on Bass, and Derek Dreier on percussion.
Callaway charmed Omaha. At one point she even elicited some help from the audience to make a little musical-collaborative snack. Patrons should definitely attend Sunday’s concert to hopefully experience the same delightful enterprise.
The most striking element of the concert was Callaway’s obvious love for Streisand and her body of work. “Barbra has a great love of the world,” she said. She utilized several milestone moments in Streisand’s musical lexicon, as well as her personal life, to extract pivotal tunes and then used them to describe the beauty of living through Streisand’s eyes.
Callaway has an affectionate working relationship with Streisand and has had compositions featured on 7 of her albums. A particular highlight of the concert, “I’ve Dreamed of You,” written by Callaway, was premiered at Streisand’s wedding to James Brolin.
Callaway’s own songs complement Streisand’s body of work beautifully. They authentically rejoice in the truths we embrace in a singular way during the most treasured moments of our lives. It’s no surprise they fit so well with the hits we associate with Streisand: an artist with an unparalleled ability to sing with a singular presence of emotion.
The bulk of the journey through Streisand’s life was designed around her hits of stage, studio, and screen. Jules Stein, Stephen Sondheim, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch, and Richard Rodgers are just a few of the cornucopia of greats the set list celebrated. Love, loss, and laughter are strung together in this legacy concert like musical pearls.
Callaway’s voice danced with the orchestra. Her ease of facility and richness of sonority lifted the Holland audience up. One could feel smiles reaching past the masks in the room. Callaway’s humor was refreshing to boot. The laughter punctuated the roadmap between songs effortlessly.
Omaha would do well to go see and hear the enchanting performance of Streisand’s cherished songs; or even go see and hear it again. There’s one more chance! Sunday at 2:00pm at the Holland.
Thank you to Ann Hampton Callaway for lifting the city up in more ways than one. Callaway’s voice is now a happy echo in Omaha’s heart. I anxiously await her return!
I grew up in church music and musical theatre. From my collegiate career and beyond I've traveled through opera, the symphony, the theatre and worship as a student, a performer, an entrepreneur, and a journalistic correspondent. I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to share with you some of the incredible and fascinating endeavors I continue to undertake in music and the arts. I don't need you to see the world the way I do, but I'll do everything I can to help you enjoy it as much as I have.