We went on a lark to check out the New Orleans Volunteer Orchestra‘s (NOVO) “New Home, New Beginning” program Thursday (Oct. 8) at the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, and it would be easy to say we got our money’s worth from the free show. As the New Orleans Advocate’s Dean Shapiro noted in his preview, the performance represented NOVO’s debut as a stand-alone, non-profit orchestra after out-growing Loyola University — where it began as a smaller, chamber orchestra.
NOVO knows its audience, which, while modest even given the church’s modest capacity, appreciated an accessible program that included sections from “Carmina Burana” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” soundtrack by Howard Shore. But the orchestra, bolstered by the newly minted chorus, also soared while performing the gospel-infused “Nearer to Thee,” a new arrangement by co-director Joseph Ciesla, and featuring a solo by Dylan Tran.
Everyone came together for the show’s closer, a repeat of the popular version of Queen’s magnum opus “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It was a fun if mixed-bag effort, emboldened by strong choral flourishes that at times were drowned out by the orchestra — but that didn’t stop the crowd from swaying to the music and capturing it on their smart phones. I was just as guilty, so here’s the version right here. Check out and consider supporting NOVO; they’re on Facebook here.