by Michael Caruso
The 66th season of concerts in Pastorius Park, presented by the Chestnut Hill Community Association and sponsored by Chestnut Hill Hospital, continued Wednesday, June 25, with singer-songwriter Mutlu and keyboard accompanist Jeremy Diamond. Unlike the previous Wednesday evening, when the weather cooperated for a lovely outdoor event, this time the threat of torrential downpours caused the concert to be moved indoors to the auditorium of the Cherokee campus of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. But the change of venue did nothing to dampen the spirits of the two performers or the large, supportive audience.
A Philadelphia native of Turkish descent, Mutlu opened the concert with “Upside,” an upbeat number with guitar and keyboard accompaniment. Although I would hesitate to describe Mutlu’s voice as “beautiful” in the tradition of, say, Frank Sinatra’s, I’d credit that voice as the perfect instrument for his songs. Sporting a slightly tart, tonal edge, Mutlu’s mostly non-vibrato singing projected not just the lyrics’ superficial denotation but their more profound connotation as well.
Prefacing the performance of his next song, “Hello Morning,” with good-natured teasing, Mutlu gave it a sultry rhythmic bending of the melodic line and elegant touches of bluesy harmonic progressions, all with sweet, touching lyrics.
Diamond offered a classy flute coloring in “Shaky Ground.” “Mutlu (which means ‘happy’ in Turkish) in America” again called upon minor chords as well as a staccato accompaniment, almost classic jazz organ riffs, and subtle shifts of harmony. “One Life With You” recalled old-fashioned country songs given a new twist while “Stand By Me” had the hard edge of the original. “Keep on Giving,” “Weight of the World” and “Without Love” rounded out an expertly conceived, masterfully performed concert.
The Italian pop vocal sensation, Il Volo, bounded into the Mann Center for the Performing Arts last week for a concert Thursday, June 26. With associate conductor Cristian Macelaru leading the Philadelphia Orchestra, the trio serenaded several thousand devotees and made a convert out of a previously skeptical me.
Il Volo is comprised of 20-year-old tenor Piero Barone, 19-year-old tenor Ignazio Boschetto and 18-year-old baritone Gianluca Ginoble. Although my initial reaction to their own description of themselves as “three voices, one soul,” was (again) skeptical, I came away from their two-hour concert convinced that’s precisely how they perform and amazed at how powerful their performances can be.
Perhaps because their voices are still young and sport gentle rather than wide vibratos, their ensemble singing is flawlessly matched and blended, and their music arrangers make the most of the cumulative effect of their singing. In almost all of their numbers — be they pop standards such as “Memory,” “Smile,” “Maria” or “Falling in Love with You” or Italian favorites such as “Mama” or “O Sole Mio” — Ginoble starts things off at the bottom of the vocal range. Then Barone enters in the middle of the register with Boschetto coming in at the top of the range. The crescendo is temporarily suspended as each takes a solo turn, then resumed with all three singing together in impressively conceived and immaculately delivered three-part harmony.
While that may seem formulaic on paper, it didn’t come across that way at the Mann Center last week. On the contrary, it sounded not merely natural but even downright inevitable. And with the selections sung completely by one or the other member of Il Volo, especially considering their different stylistic partialities, there was no feeling of sameness or repetition.