Reviews

Here are a few of the many rave reviews for Cirque de la Symphonie.
MD Theatre Guide
"...a show that everyone needs to see at least once"
"cirque acts are perfectly choreographed to the music, making every piece the perfect marriage of movement and music"
"quite stunning ... one of the most breathtaking things I've seen in a long time"
"Cirque de la Symphonie is an experience for everyone."
Full Review
DC Metro Theater Arts
"the ushers .. helped me pick my jaw up off the floor."
"an amazing combination of classical music and incredible cirque performances"
"two great tastes that taste great together"
"audiences applauding throughout the performance, audibly gasping, laughing, and crying out in delight"
"I promised myself that I wouldn't gush, but that's really what the program deserves."
"nothing short of breathtaking"
"It would take too long to praise each and every act, but rest assured that the entirety of Cirque de la Symphonie deserves it."
"an evening that should appeal to everyone — young and old, fans of classical music, and otherwise"
Full Review
The San Francisco Examiner
"Cirque de la Symphonie dazzles and defies death"
"full house of delighted and mesmerized adults and children ... a crowd pleasing joy to behold"
"beauty and delicacy ... incredible precision and timing ... dramatic applause and cheering"
Full Review
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"Symphony presents a treat for eyes and ears"
"The only question after Thursday evening's sold out Pittsburgh Symphony Pops presentation of Cirque de la Symphonie is: How soon will the musically adept circus act return to Heinz Hall?"
"The audience was extremely enthusiastic."
Full Review
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
"MSO flies high with acrobats"
"aesthetically spectacular program"
"Minus the performing animals and sawdust, the big top has come to town, big time."
"They earned the extended cheering you would expect from sports crowds."
Full Review
DFW.com
"Symphony plus circus equals a spectacular show!"
"Jaw-dropping ... a well-deserved standing ovation"
Full Review
The Seattle Times
"The capacity crowd that turned out for Cirque de la Symphonie could not have been more pleased."
"The artists provided some great thrills."
"World-class performers achieved the seemingly impossible."
"an audience willing to surrender to every nuance or peak ... a successfully dreamy evening"
Full Review
The Orange County Register
"Cirque de la Symphonie wows Verizon"
"The crowd was large and happy and ate it up, and rightly so." ... "Every routine was a delight."
"a memorable, entertaining evening that, if repeated, will surely draw them in again."
Full Review
Express Milwaukee
"the most exciting idea to hit the symphonic pops circuit in some time"
"seemingly impossible combinations of strength and acrobatics"
"It was all artfully and gracefully done, with stylish European flair."
"I just have three more words to add about Cirque de la Symphonie: Bring 'em back!"
Full Review
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Cirque De La Symphonie Mixes Music with Big-Top Action"
"gravity-defying feats"
"Cirque de la Symphonie is all right!"
Full Review
The Baltimore Sun
"collective "oohs" and "ahs" ... shouts of approval"
"remarkably well-timed to the music ... whets the appetite for what's next"
"a startling demonstration of slow-motion, seemingly impossible hand-balancing"
"sleeper hit of the season"
Full Review
The Buffalo News
"The audience was agog. People gasped!"
"unbelievable dance-like movements"
"The feats these muscle men pulled off!"
Full Review
Portland Press Herald
"death-defying, colossal and stupendous ... the most astonishing poses ... almost hallucinogenic"
"An astounding aerial pas de deux on red silk ribbons brought the house down."
"a well deserved standing ovation"
Full Review
The Grand Rapids Press
"Cirque acts thrill Grand Rapids Symphony audience"
"wonder, surprises and enchantment" ... "How do they do that!?"
"Extraordinary! The audience ended the night with a standing ovation."
"..an aerial pas de deux of grace and beauty"
"Cirque de la Symphonie's show is a real treat for the eye as well as the ear."
Full Review
Duluth News Tribune
"Wow! What a night!" ... "No words will do justice!"
"If you weren't there, you simply won't understand ... this was stellar entertainment."
Full Review
Kansas City Free Press
"Cirque de la Symphonie dazzles KC Symphony audiences"
"the world's finest cirque artists ... drawing sell-out crowds"
"stunning ... scintillating grace of movement ... brought down the house"
"astonishing to behold ... bringing the house to a standing ovation"
Full Review
Review Vancouver
"I hadn't expected was to have to physically shut my jaw after several notable performances."
"truly amazing choreography and acrobat feats performed in perfect timing to classical music"
"We were watching the very best."
"The natural combination of these two arts forms provided new dimensions that only enhanced one another."
"It seemed everyone left with a feeling of having been part of something really quite special. "
"Sometimes magic does happen."
Full Review
The Augusta Chronicle
"I've never seen this hall this packed!"
"Just look at it ... It's perfect."
Full Review
St. Petersburg Times
"The audience regularly erupted into applause."
"a melancholy work of poetic fluidity, floating above the stage with grace and real drama"
"stunning ... did things that humans shouldn't be able to do"
Full Review
Examiner.com Indianapolis
"Irresistible ... extraordinary"
"Exquisite, breathtaking feats"
"..dazzled the audience and often drew gasps as they soared, balanced and contorted, to the delight of all."
"some heart-stopping moments"
"a breath-taking display of agility and incomparable beauty"
Full Review
Now Playing Austin
"Spell-binding beauty and grace" ... "awe-inspiring"
"magical, beautiful, joyous entertainment" ... "eye-popping" ... "a show not to be missed"
Full Review
The Seattle Times
"a fantastic holiday show"
"spectacular aerial feats, juggling madness and a strongman act that resembles a hallucination"
"certainly stokes holiday excitement ... The look on kids' faces in the crowd doesn't lie."
Full Review
The Columbus Dispatch
"daring and dramatic ... a fun and rewarding diversion"
"large, appreciative crowd"
Full Review
Eugene Daily News
"rich combination of aesthetic beauty interwoven with musical compositions held attendees in a trance" ... "nothing less than mesmerizing"
"demonstrations of strength, grace, and artistry"
Full Review
Appleton Post Crescent
"Circus and Symphony!" ... "gasps and applause"
"a wonderful blending of artistry and acrobatics, a synthesis of two great art forms"
"compelling movements and displays of human strength held the audience captive"
"Let us hope that we see this troupe of performers in our town again."
Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"This one was visually riveting."
"People were sitting on the edge of their chairs watching the exciting action."
"Cirque artists amaze... you've never seen anything like this on any local concert stage!"
"cirque artists doing amazing and even magical things"
Full Review
Indianapolis Woman
"a unique and entertaining show, definitely fun for the entire family"
"I only hope the powers that be decide to bring back the show next season, hopefully for more than just three performances."
Full Review
Lexington Herald-Reader
"Bringing in Cirque de la Symphonie enhanced the musical heft of the concert."
"dramatic and dazzling ... making a huge impression"
Full Review
Mobile Press-Register
"Now for something completely different ... "
"the artistry of the human body taken to extreme limits"
"Audience responses throughout the evening were spontaneous and sometimes breathless at the dazzling virtuosity of the Cirque artists."
Full Review
The Cincinnati Enquirer
"crowd-pleasing ... synergy of orchestral accompaniment to the spectacle of cirque"
"a hybrid of circus and fine art"
"the synchronization proved admirably adept"
Full Review
Wheeling News-Register
"Beauty, Elegance, Strength, Flexibility, Humor"
"The evening was amazing ... a feast for eyes and ears."
"It lifts the spirit ... such elegance and beauty!"
"The selection of music was, of course, perfect with the cirque acts."
Full Review
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"a show unlike any other ... astonishing"
The capacity house expressed open admiration for everyone."
"There was humor and magic as well."
Full Review
El Paso Times
"a hit with both the orchestra and the audience, a refreshing mix of EPSO faithful & new faces"
"got more than a few "oohs" and "aahs" out of the crowd"
Full Review
Lincoln Journal Star
"LSO season opener is flawless"
"well-choreographed ... spectacular ... ultimate grace"
"a masterpiece both for orchestra and acrobats"
Full Review
The Miami Concerts Examiner
"an amazing experience ... could become a tradition"
"excitement in the air ... an incredible fusion of these two art forms"
"a three-dimensional entertainment extravaganza"
Full Review
Tulsa World
"These feats bring a smile to one's face, even a thrill down the spine."
"Everything was done with understated grace, precision, even humor."
"remarkable displays of human ability"
Full Review
Broad Street Review
"What better way to stimulate fresh interest in serious music?"
"appeals to a broad range of audiences ... demonstrated gorgeous chemistry"
"novel and mesmerizing execution ... the audience went wild."
"the answer to the Philadelphia Orchestra's declining attendance figures"
Full Review
Northern Iowan
"Cirque de la Symphonie leaves crowd in awe"
"Audience members whispered words of astonishment to each other."
"performers were applauded and a standing ovation was given"
Full Review
Alpharetta-Milton Patch
"The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Cirque de la Symphonie paired up for an exhilarating evening at the Verizon Amphitheater"
"The audience was varied ... performance was one that could be enjoyed by people of all ages."
"perfectly choreographed ... the audience cheered and clapped in amazement"
"a treat for the ears and the eyes"
Full Review
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
"Cirque de Symphonie dazzle enthusiastic audience"
"Weinberger has given us unique programs before, but surely this one tops them all,"
"masters of vivid expression through physical strength, movement and grace"
"maneuvers that thrilled and stunned the audience ... a visual feast"
"The large crowd frequently shouted their enthusiasm for this talented group."
"What a dazzling way to open the new musical season!"
Full Review
Tallahassee Democrat
"left the audiences wanting more ... flawless"
"a sense of grace fell over the stage ... control and precision were breathtaking"
"a genuine show-stopper ... awe-inspiring"
"What really made the entire show was how well the music was choreographed with the cirque performers. The two art forms, while independent, showed sensitivity to one another and worked as one; even though the cirque artists performed center-stage and acted as the soloists, they moved to the music and complimented it rather than overpowered it. The overall presentation was professional and entertaining, and certainly a show for the entire family."
Full Review
The Muskegon Chronicle
"a magical treat"
"The combination was clearly successful, as the applause at the end of each number was almost deafening."
"The artistic combination of symphonic music, graceful choreography, and amazing acrobatic feats made for a night of aural, visual, and soulful perfection."
Full Review
The Grand Rapids Press
"What Ravel and Tchaikovsky do for the ear, Cirque de la Symphonie does for the eye with lingering routines in the air and inexplicable feats of strength on the ground."
Full Review
The Salt Lake Tribune
"...an elegant cadre of aerialists, contortionists, strongmen and acrobats accompanied by the symphony"
"...defied gravity... gasp-inspiring moments"
Full Review
MD Theatre Guide
"...Strathmore audiences were in awe...amazing acrobatic feats"
"From beginning to end, it was a wonderful concert, filled with favorite holiday music and simply stunning performances by a whole host of world class aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, dancers and contortionists."
"It would be a difficult challenge to pick a favorite from the Cirque de la Symphonie artists who performed last night. Very much at the top of their game, their talent seems to know no bounds."
"...the memory of this superb concert will last longer than anything one can package in a box."
Full Review
The Baltimore Sun
"turnout was strong, crowd reaction vociferously enthusiastic"
"The folks of Cirque de la Symphonie clearly know how to make it all work in a concert hall setting. It's a smooth operation all around."
"top-notch talent... amazing, strikingly choreographed feats... terrific aerial work"
Full Review
The Miami Concerts Examiner
"A full house... a medium to introduce young audiences to the music concert hall"
"When the artists of Cirque de la Symphonie perform in front of a full orchestra, an incredible fusion of these two great art forms take place, turning the concert into a three dimensional entertainment extravaganza."
"could become a tradition"
"entertaining and beautiful program that merges good music with the fun of cirque"
Full Review
Mlive.com
"A feast for the eyes is what happens when Alexander Streltsov and Christine Van Loo, wrapped in red silk, twirl and spin, intertwined together, 20-feet above the stage."
"You have to see it to believe it."
Full Review
The Columbus Dispatch
"Perfect for people who enjoy classical music but wish it was as exciting to watch as it is to hear."
"Dazzling ... Astounding ... Fascinating"
Full Review
Charleston Today
"Descriptions such as immensely talented, poised, graceful, fluid, serene, and astonishing all fall short of the visual impact of seeing these performers live in such a beautiful, dignified setting."
"... performed with elegance, dignity, and artistic grace ... displays of incredible poise and beauty, not to mention strength"
"The aerial artists took our breath away with high-flying maneuvers and daredevil switchovers high above the stage."
Full Review
The (Harrisburg) Patriot News
"gravity-defying, gasp-inducing ... hypnotic"
"really must be seen to be believed"
"this concert was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen"
Full Review
The (Cumberland PA) Sentinel
"a sold-out house at The Forum was entirely entranced by this breathtaking marriage of acrobatics and classical music"
"a breathtaking mind meld of gymnastics set against an orchestral backdrop of beautiful music"
"This was rare entertainment indeed, a delightfully unexpected merger of art forms that produced high-flying thrills"
"The attraction for the public was apparent, as HSO scored a rare complete sellout for both weekend performances."
Full Review
Orlando Sentinel
"Contortionists, strong men, aerialists, jugglers and clowns took the stage to audience gasps, murmurs and exclamations of "Oh my," "Oh wow!" and even the occasional "Oh, God!"
Full Review
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
"... astonishing, scintillating and jaw-dropping entertainment"
Full Review
Artslink.co.za
"Cirque de la Symphonie is Spectacular"
"breathtaking ... heart-stopping precision"
"Each act is perfectly choreographed"
"... had the audience on their feet"
"brilliant, outstanding ... wow, that was amazing!"
Full Review
allAfrica
"Music meets magic"
"spectacular performances"
"this show was created with the music in mind"
"sold-out theatre"
Full Review
Lincoln Journal Star
"masterly, mistake-free ... they were spectacular"
"a level of grace seldom seen at a circus or anywhere"
"The audience loved what they saw and heard, standing and offering cheers and strong applause at concert's end."
Full Review
Lincoln Classical Music News
"the amazing feats of the cirque artists ... elicited many gasps of awe and bursts of applause"
"well choreographed performances that matched the mood and rhythm of the music"
"another breathtaking performance!"
Full Review
Muskegon Chronicle
"Cirque de la Symphonie ... taking Muskegon by storm"
"an intimate relationship between performer and audience"
"a night of musical and visual entertainment ... artistry and athleticism"
"The crowd was delighted"
"The intense combination of symphonic music, athletic dexterity, and graceful choreography created a stimulating evening."
Full Review
Bachtrack (Toronto)
"TSO Pops opened its season with a jaw-dropping concert featuring Cirque de la Symphonie."
"...served as an exciting introduction to the world of classical repertoire"
"a truly multi-dimensional experience"
"They perform unbelievable physical numbers"
"The audience could not possibly anticipate what would come next."
"...almost divine physical strength"
"It truly was a one-of-a-kind event."
Full Review
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"pushes boundaries with gentility"
"gives emotional gravity... to unusually good gymnastics... poetic implications"
"surprisingly new, even challenging music"
"Where Cirque de la Symphonie truly utilizes the music is in creating a flow."
Full Review
The Wichita Eagle
"The artistry on display was disciplined and impressive."
"effective timing, matching musical gestures to physical ones, crossing the bridge between the traditional approach to circus music in America and the ballet and pantomime that has influenced European cirque"
"the sense of timing was never in doubt"
"fantastic turns and twists in the air seem more like a duet with the musicians"
"truly breathtaking"
"a clear example of the crossover between traditional acrobatics and classical dance that the company pursues"
Full Review
Sioux City Journal
"Cirque de la Symphonie evokes joy, gasps"
"jaw-dropping moves ... one of those breathtaking events"
"The Cirque de la Symphonie effect? Stunning."
"The combination was a winning one."
"still figuring out a way to catch your breath and applaud"
"you knew anything could happen ... it was all good"
Full Review
Richmond Times-Dispatch
"the sold-out audience knew it was in for something different"
"the magic of this program lay in the superb marrying of the always well-played musical selections with the amazing performances of the Cirque artists"
"feats of strength and beauty, repeatedly defying gravity and eliciting oohs, ahs and applause from the enthralled audience"
"It's hard to say what part of the program was the most fun, but the Cirque and the Richmond Symphony supplied plenty."
Full Review
Omaha World-Herald
"When asked to describe the series of difficult-to-impossible stunts flawlessly presented by Cirque de la Symphonie, a reviewer runs a serious risk of running out of words."
"... left a packed Holland Performing Arts Center in awe..."
"... rose well above an Olympic degree of difficulty"
"... bending and twisting in ways that would leave Gumby speechless"
Full Review
The Boston Globe
"the Boston Pops playing in wonderment"
"a triumphant taking of bows ... well-earned"
"the illusion of inviting calamity while maintaining complete control at all times"
"so astonishingly that Keith Lockhart turned to watch as he conducted"
"all about smooth control"
"twisted in impossible ways and undulated like a flame"
"audience applauding at yet another gasp-inducing feat of strength or dexterity"
Full Review
The Indianapolis Star
"Among the many ways music can contribute to visually accessible performance media, 'Cirque de la Symphonie' is perhaps the most spectacular."
"a mesmerizing display of precision acrobatics, graceful and appealing props and costumes, and extraordinary muscular control and balance"
"something daring, sensuous and exactly balanced"
"seemingly impossible, well-judged and balanced formations"
"Superb muscular control and sensitive rapport made precarious poses not only possible, but graceful as well."
Full Review
Cape Town 360
"giving the Cape Town crowd something they have never seen before!"
"world class acts by extremely artistic performers"
"sending shivers down their spines with their daring stunts and talents"
"sitting on the edge of their seats as they wait in anticipation for every new act"
"watched in amazement at a showcase like none other"
"a mind-boggling experience"
Full Review
Artslink.co.za
"the exceptional and unearthly, to all that dazes and dazzle"
"the standard has been set"
"The pair soared above the orchestra and delicately weaved their bodies between the silks, winding and unwinding into the most staggering of suspensions."
"each performer defies the known limits of the human body in one continual series of 'wow' moments"
Full Review
Orlando Sentinel
"...set a record as the Phil's highest-selling concert of all time"
"The circus was never so thrilling."
Full Review
LimaOhio.com
"a visual and musical spectacle for the entire family"
"Adults and children alike gasped and cheered"
"hair-raising..beautiful..graceful..exciting..captivating.."
"an aural and visual spectacle that will not soon be forgotten"
Full Review
ClevelandClassical.com
"glorious feats of athleticism and agility ... a dazzling amount of physical dexterity"
"frequent bursts of delighted applause"
"a terrific family-oriented event ... enthralling physical feats"
"The audience seemed enchanted with all elements of the program, giving a hearty standing ovation at the end."
Full Review
DC Metro Theater Arts
"mesmerizing blend of exquisite orchestral music, haunting vocals and heart pounding acrobatics"
"the death-defying antics of the Cirque performers transport audiences out of the everyday and into the world of the magical"
Full Review
MLive.com
"never fails to delight an audience"
"..exhilerating..thrilling..grace and flexibility"
"leaves an audience gasping"
Full Review
The Huffington Post
"This show is musically compelling, on top of being a lot of fun."
"...moves that you would see in Olympic rings, but with much more control and lyricism"
"...just flows with a degree of difficulty that is off the charts"
"extreme yogic positions"
"...their precarious dangles and torso interlocks hypnotize"
"Cirque de la Symphonie has multi-generational and broad cross-over appeal and that has proved a winning combination with many orchestras trying to build new audiences."
Full Review
The Morning Call
“It was a spectacle, as five performers from Cirque de la Symphonie performed exquisitely choreographed acts just a few feet in front of the orchestra.”
“…an astounding array of feats performed by artists with some of the most perfect of physiques”
“one's eyes never left the action”
“…flying through the air as if on wings”
Full Review
The Columbus Dispatch
“Combine some of the best in classical music with incredible circus performers, and you get a fantastic return performance from Cirque de la Symphonie”
“This show was exciting to watch”
“All these performers were awesome”
“Children of all ages were spellbound”
Full Review
Broadway World
“The Ohio Theatre's gilded halls were transformed into a dazzling display of majesty and mystery”
“enthralling performances by some of the most accomplished international cirque performers”
“Each act mesmerized audiences with a powerful marriage of unparalleled visual and aural expression”
“…masterfully coupled exhilaratingly dynamic acrobatics with equally bombastic musical works”
“Cirque performers precisely executed kinesthetic movements that blended seamlessly into the music”
“In its unique adaption of symphonic favorites, "Cirque de la Symphonie" elegantly fused two art forms to create a vivid collaboration that inspired and amazed.”
Full Review
The Sentinel
“Cirque de la Symphonie amazes crowd”
“all tickets have been sold”
“..a spectacular night of performance art that had a capacity Forum crowd cheering wildly on multiple occasions”
“What sets Cirque de la Symphonie apart is its use of history’s most beautiful music”
“..surprisingly fresh and intriguing”
“..the effect was electric .. defied belief”
“Cirque de la Symphonie has been a runaway success since its inception, selling out concert after concert with the nation’s foremost orchestras”

Full Review
Huffington Post
“Cirque de la Symphonie flies high with the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra”
“It was glorious. It was unanimous.
“dancing sixty feet above the audience, tethered to the stage by gravity and flowing silk fabric - like swans they flew”
“credits are international, extensive and impressive”
“The visuals of Cirque de la Symphonie allow us to cognitively see music and therefore appreciate the orchestra in an entirely new way.”

Full Review
Star-Telegram
“Cirque, Fort Worth Symphony soar as one”
“The result is spectacular”
“a seamless ensemble .. a unified show”
“remarkable grace and composure”

Full Review
The Daily Gazette
"Safe to say there has seldom if ever been such astonishing live entertainment in the Koussevitzky Music Shed."
Full Review
ActiveRain
“Tanglewood was really packed last night.
The feature was an array of performers who were like other worldly magicians who did the amazing, the incredible and the beautiful to live music provided by the Boston Pops.
There were gasps and laughs and intermittent shouts and applause: not typical at Tanglewood.
The weather was perfect and the show was wonderful.”

Full Review
The Malaysian Reserve
“the audience at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas oohed and aahed at the physical dexterity and clever theatrical nuances incorporated.”
“It was both spectacular and artistic.”
“..received a rave response from the audience”
“..it was an amazing spectacle to behold.”
“The show will be most welcomed should it return in later years.”

Full Review
Yakima Herald
“..thunderous applause from the audience”
“The sight of two performers spinning effortlessly above one of the most famous ballet themes ever written was visually and acoustically stunning.”
“..an artistic tour de force”

Full Review
Nashville Parent Magazine
“An exquisite, dazzling, mind-blowing night of family entertainment”
“the perfect family show that kids of all ages will love”
“The talented cast of cirque performers delivers awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping feats throughout the two-hour, eye-popping evening.”
“It’s awesome to watch each act in such an intimate, up-close setting”
“Cirque de la Symphonie is definitely the hot ticket in town this weekend, and it’s a magical experience your family will always remember.”

Full Review
Billings Gazette
A rare sign hung on the door of the Alberta Bair Theater during the Billings Symphony Orchestra's "Cirque de la Symphonie" performance on Saturday night. It read, “Sold Out.”
“jaw-dropping”
“amazing strength and balance”
“flexibility and beautifully flowing movement”

Full Review
Splash Magazine
“a mesmerizing event”
“The audience was thrilled and bedazzled”
“words do no justice to this memorable event”
“you felt as if you were transformed to another time and place”
“To say ‘it was a sight and experience to behold,’ is an understatement”

Full Review
DC Metro Theater Arts
“bound to become a seasonal tradition at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts”
“the kids eat it up”
“The pairing of circus and symphony is genius”
“lofty and aloft, among the greatest arts on Earth piling on.”
“sheer magic … awakening every childhood fantasy”
“jaw-dropping”
“This supreme Halloween treat is not to be missed.”

Full Review
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Seriously, how did they do that?"
"...slowly shifting, precariously balanced human sculpture created by two men in shimmering gold body paint"
"The performance received an enthusiastic standing ovation."
Full Review
Huffington Post
Cirque de la Symphonie Flies High With The Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra
Gordy Grundy, Columnist
March 30, 2015
"Ladies and Gentlemen!" The orchestra rose to their feet as the last of their bold notes danced off the curved walls and undulated ceiling of the concert hall. "Ladies and gentlemen!" exclaimed Stuart Chafetz with a showman's bravado. His smile was a wide, warm beam lighting a friendly face. "Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present to you, your hometown orchestra!" The conductor's hand was outstretched to include all of those now standing behind him. Each holding their instrument, they assembled every age and race. "Your hometown orchestra, the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra!"

The applause was a loud, fast roar, a surprise that turned me around. A wide sea of faces was rising, standing. Shiny eyes, bright smiles and flashing hands reflected the lights from the stage. Against the back wall stood those who could not get a seat to the sold-out performance. The balcony, swollen, hovered above, alive with motion. It was glorious. It was unanimous.

In the audience, two governors, an Italian prince and his princess, actor Jim Nabors and a delegation of consul generals also rose with applause. So did John Dean, the president of Central Pacific Bank, whose invocation before the show stressed the community of the symphony.

In front of me, an elderly spry man, whose suit, shirt and shoes were splattered with every mad color, yelled, "Bravo! Bravo!" In the seat next to mine, a raven-haired matron in reserved black was applauding with wild verve, a release from the tension she had harbored during the finale.
I could feel her arm, taunt with fear, quivering next to mine. On stage, two gold men, almost naked, moved slowly, with fierce deliberation. Their faces were grim, reflecting their physical tension. Joined by hard hands and arms of muscle and legs forced against gravity, the two acrobats pushed their bodies into a moving sculpture of physics that defied the belief of one's own eyes. The matron next to me was tense, shaking erratically. She wiggled higher against the back of her seat. The orchestra was a thunder. The grim majesty of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius (1899) changed the rhythm of every heartbeat in the room. Every beat in the music was a reflection of movement in the dance of steel by the two giants on the stage.

Jarek & Darek are strongmen, hand-balancing acrobats. Smooth as granite, almost twins, they have been performing together for twenty-five years, racing the pulse of their audiences. Tonight, they were the final act of a collaboration between the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra and Cirque de la Symphonie, an international circus of high art and movement.
Returning to human form, Jarek & Darek took to the stage and bowed deeply. The audience, and the raven-haired matron, applauded aggressively, a release of fear, dire expectation and time-stopping suspense.

Soon to be celebrating its tenth year, the Athens, Georgia based troupe has been performing with the nation's finest symphonies. This night was Cirque de la Symphonie's first with the Hawai'i Symphony, an orchestra that has recently and ecstatically risen from the ashes of bankruptcy and reorganization.
The troupe presents a circus for the symphony. "It's all about the music," says Bill Allen, Executive Director of the cirque. Performances, on stage or flying high above, are choreographed to the symphonic score. "The visuals provide a three dimensional effect for the concert goer, amplifying the concert experience for all patrons. People who have not previously been classical music followers suddenly appreciate their local symphony in an entirely new way."
Looking up is a symptom. Christine Van Loo and Alexander Streltsov were dancing sixty feet above the audience, tethered to the stage by gravity and flowing silk fabric. Like swans, they flew. Tchaikovsky's waltz from Swan Lake is given a greater grandeur when the birds can leave the pond.

My guest nudged me in the ribs and whispered, "A lot of my students are in the audience tonight." Andrea Torres was looking up and beaming with admiration at Christine Van Loo. Light in the sky, aerialist Van Loo is weighted with awards, accolades and seven consecutive national gymnastic championships. Two nights ago, she hosted a special class at Samadhi Hawaii, the islands' foremost aerial academy. I was there to witness the awe-struck students. Torres, the elegant Samadhi founder, says, "Christine generously reached out to us! The students are so grateful to learn from a seasoned professional, someone who has performed before so many audiences."

As one who prefers hip-hop to Hayden, I loved the most contemporary number. American composer John Williams wrote an incredible score for the Witches of Eastwick. His "Devil's Dance" came alive with a wicked performance by Andrey Moraru. His costume and angular long limbs referenced Disney's Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas. His white make-up and smeared red lipstick evoked Heath Ledger's "The Joker."

All pop profundity aside, Moraru is an Eastern European circus-trained dancer and acrobat with a specialty in hand-balancing whose most recent claim to fame is a finalist on America's Got Talent. Now that's pop! His performance of great force and athletic agility was delivered with such humor and effortless grace, that the nervous matron seated next to me seemed to be enjoying herself.

Andrey Moraru shared a flirtatious acrobatic dance with one of the show’s most beguiling performers Aloysia Gavre. She is a saucy sprite. A wide, engaging smile outshines her flaming red hair. Her unconventional beauty and laughing eyes won my heart. A veteran of Cirque du Soleil and director of several contemporary troupes, Gavre is held earthbound by her own Los Angeles Cirque School. Her prowess as a choreographer is touted by the Executive Director of Cirque de la Symphonie. Bill Allen says, "I send her a piece of music and she ingeniously integrates cirque artistry to provide a fine arts level of choreography."
Later in the show, Aloysia Gavre takes to the air with her specialty, aboard the aerial hoop.

The sparkling threads throughout the show are two key performers. A mistress of grace and agility, Elena Tsarkova is a consummate performer. Her circus credits are international, extensive and impressive. She performs a beguiling dance of acrobatic contortion; its sensationalism is overwhelmed by its graciousness and beauty. With comic Vladimir Tsarkov, Elena Tsarkova presents a classic quick-change act that stupefied the audience. In the lobby after the show, I overheard gaggles of women trying to figure it out.

This mime can juggle! An audience favorite, Vladimir Tsarkov brought humor to the evening and a welcome relief from the acts of suspense and derring-do. His odd duck character was an audience favorite.

The fancy of aerial flight creates very serious safety and technical demands. High tension wires ground and support a metal truss from which performers hang and fly. A man wearing many hats, Alexander Streltsov also serves and protects the cirque as Technical Director. He works with each concert hall to install the equipment. Then he takes to the sky to give the equipment a test fly.

Aerial artist Alexander Streltsov grew up in the circus, the scion of a circus family. His goals and passions are the fire that founded the Cirque de la Symphonie. His drive and skill have earned him a gold medal at the Festival Mondial Du Cirque De L'Avenir in Paris, the Olympics for acrobats. This night, in an airborne duet with Christine Van Loo, Streltsov became the envy of all circus audiences everywhere, the Flying Man. With graceful ease, the acrobat flew above the orchestra and out over the awe-struck audience. Icarus, Superman, the iconic flight touches us deeply and primitively every time.

Across the country, symphonies, both large and small, endowed and struggling, are seeking new ways to attract an audience. A depressed economy has hampered disposable spending and charitable giving. The convenience of our hand held devices and wall-size screens have clouded the true joys of a live performance.
The visuals of Cirque de la Symphonie allow us to cognitively see music and therefore appreciate the orchestra in an entirely new way. Each phrase and note is given an added and welcome distinction. In truth, this circus troupe is not the headline act but merely an ocular lens that compliments and emotionally heightens the musical score. The Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra remains the star of the show.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Blaisdell Concert Hall, constructed to present the state's orchestra that was founded in 1900. Rising high like a phoenix, the newly conceived Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra is building strong and fast upon a solid new foundation. "The enduring dedication of these talented musicians of the Hawai'i Symphony is awe inspiring!" says conductor Stuart Chafetz, "It is abundantly clear that musical excellence has been, and will always be, a priority! Onward and upward!!!"