Martin Gross
  • Martin Gross
  • Jim Buchmann
  • Todd Campbell
  • Mark Goldberg
The Wichita Eagle
The Wichita Eagle
Sunday, May 04, 2003
Symphony pops plays Oktoberfest favorites

Yodeling is fun, but it sure is hard to do. That's one thing music lovers learned at the Wichita Symphony Orchestra's Oom Pah Pops Concert Saturday night at Century II Convention Hall.

The concert featured folk music from Germany and Austria -- both symphonic waltzes and marches played by the orchestra and guest conductor Michael Krajewski, and polkas, dances and other folk songs straight from the Alps playe by the Sonnenschein Express ( the Sunshine Express) .

The six piece polka band -- the basic set up was tuba, clarinet, drums, trumpet, accordion and guitar... oh, and lederhosen-- got its start at Walt Disney World in Orlando and the group had the audience participation thing down pat. Thus we tried to yodel, and sang along as "Edelweiss was played on a singing saw", and laughed frequently at conductor Krajewski's jokes and easy- going manner -- oh and his lederhosen.

Even symphony conductor Andrew Sewell, making a surprise appearance, took a turn yodeling. But the men in Sonnenschein Express were more than competent entertainers. They were first rate musicians, and hidden in the progression of foot stomping quicksteps and clap dancing polkas were demonstrations of fine playing on the specialized folk-instruments from the Alps

We heard bottonbox accordion played by band leader Martin Gross, who also joined the tuba player on a duet with alphorns, those long, straight horns whose bells rest and which sound like French horns.

There was a duet for cowbells, little ones and tea-kettle-sized ones, rattled quickly one after the other to make melody and harmony, and there was a demonstration of the Alpine xylophone, pieces of wood tied together by string, set on a table and played by the drummer.

Krajewski and the orchestra got into the act, too. Jim Jones and Michael Wilder were featured on the hop-skippity "Clarinet Polka," and the trombone section (Russ Widener, Matt Blauer and David Muehl) was featured in a beery rendition (lots of slides) of Oktoberfest favorites.

The Wichita Eagle