Regional Reviews by Nancy Grossman

Linda Eder Sings the Songs of Judy Garland with
Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops

Linda Eder possesses a distinctive, unparalleled voice that has been thrilling and captivating audiences on recordings and in concert venues large and small for over two decades. She visited Symphony Hall this week for two shows with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops and took the place by storm with her tribute to Judy Garland. In addition to fronting one of the best backup bands in America, Eder was accompanied by her Music Director John Oddo on piano, David Fink on bass and Clint de Ganon on drums.

Eder's 2005 CD By Myself: The Songs of Judy Garland served as the source for half a dozen selections on the program, but she added a couple of Garland tunes that aren't on the recording, as well as a few classic Linda Eder songs. She opened with an upbeat medley of "Almost Like Being in Love/This Can't Be Love" before showing her versatility with a soft and sweet "The Boy Next Door" and a saucy, swinging "You Made Me Love You". The next medley ("Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart/The Trolley Song") made it abundantly clear that Eder honors Garland by performing the songs she's known for, but makes them her own with her unique sound, styling and delivery.

Oddo showed his chops as arranger and accompanist on the romantic ballad "All For You." The singer quickly lightened the mood when she laughed at herself for screwing up the words, á la Garland, in "You Go to My Head." When introducing the title song from the CD, Eder said, "I love this song, but I don't do it often 'cause it's just so depressing. It's so Judy." The arrangement called for a quiet, slow entry, gradually picking up the tempo and volume until the voice was empowered and embraced being "by myself." She was really belting by the time she got to the lyrics, "I'll face the unknown, I'll build a world of my own ..." and sustained the final word "alone" longer than anybody's got a right to be able to hold a note. Amazing.

Eder concluded with back to back signature songs, "Someone Like You" from Jekyll and Hyde, her lone Broadway show, and "Vienna" from her first album. However, there was no way that this audience was going to let her get away without hearing Garland's iconic "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Eder turned the encore into an intimate lullaby, sung with a melancholy catch in her crystal clear voice. We might have all fallen asleep at our seats, but the Maestro struck up the standard Pops closing march "Stars and Stripes Forever" to interrupt the reverie and the ovation.

In the sixth week of the 124th season, the orchestra held center stage in the first half of the concert, as is its custom, and offered a trio of impressive selections from film scores. The majestic Ben Hur sounded like a grand spectacle with an array of horns and chimes. It fed seamlessly into Randy Newman's The Natural, its fanfare so evocative that it made me want to see the movie again. No Pops program is complete without a John Williams composition, this time the whimsical, magical sounds of "Devil's Dance" from The Witches of Eastwick.

Boston Symphony and Boston Pops English horn player Robert Sheena performed as soloist in Michael Daugherty's "Spaghetti Western" for English horn and orchestra to conclude the first half of the program. Inspired by the Hollywood westerns of Director Sergio Leone, Daugherty's concerto casts the horn as "The Man with No Name," moving him through a series of musical landscapes in three movements. Sheena donned a string tie with his tuxedo for a hint of western flair, but the unusual, haunting music and his virtuosity needed no such assistance.

Typical of a Boston Pops concert, this one had something for everyone, including diehard Red Sox fans. Not only did Maestro Lockhart lead the orchestra in a rousing rendition of Dropkick Murphys' "Shipping Up to Boston" to accompany video footage of Fenway Park highlights, he then endeared himself by announcing that the beloved hometown team was overcoming the rival New York Yankees in a 6-0 shutout.

I can tell you what's over the rainbow—the Boston Pops, a Red Sox victory and Linda Eder all in the same night.

Linda Eder Sings Judy Garland
Keith Lockhart, conductor
Linda Eder, vocalist
June 9, 2009
Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue,  Boston, MA
Box Office 617-266-1200 or

Photo: Michael J. Lutch 

- Nancy Grossman

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