Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Review Palm Court Concert Cowichan Theatre, Duncan

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Surprise guest livens up weekend Palm Court Show
by Lexi Bainas

Alex Hassan, a last-minute replacement soloist, flown in from Washington, D.C., charmed the audience at the Palm Court Light Orchestra's season opening concert at the Cowichan Theatre Sunday, Sept. 26.

Conductor Charles Job explained that Frederick Hodges, the pianist who had created such a sensation when he performed with Palm Court in the Valley last year, had to cancel his appearance due to a family emergency.

Cue Hassan, one of Hodge's friends, and another fine performer who's enthusiastic about the music of the 1920s and 1930s, traveled for 14 hours to join the orchestra for a series of three shows this week in Victoria, Cowichan and Sidney.

Through his career, Hassan counts notable performances at the Smithsonian Institute and at a party for the Gershwin family at Manhattan's Players Club.

He's a regular performer at ragtime festivals around North America and is also a favourite in Germany and Britain.

Along with joining the orchestra on their selections, which included such Roaring Twenties faves as "Ain't She Sweet", "My Blue Heaven" and "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips," he also presented medlies plus novelty numbers such as "Sax-o-phun" with Erik Abbink, one of the orchestra's saxophone players.

Another top-class musician brought in for the Palm Court Orchestra's opening concert Sunday was banjo-whiz Afred "Borgy" Borgerson. Over 80, he is a stalwart with the internationally-acclaimed traditional jazz band, the Dixieland Express, but he has deep roots in the Cowichan Lake area and enjoys returning to the Valley.


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