The Youth Orchestra of San Antonio came dangerously close to bringing its audience to tears Monday night with a triumphant tribute of Purple Rain Live at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
Some of San Antonio’s veteran rockers joined up with newcomers from soul, bluegrass, and indie rock as they orchestrated a masterful homage to the late great divo of musical invention: Prince.
“Thank you God!” shouted violinist Jonathan Raveneau after his rendition of Let’s Get Crazy to kick off the night.
“I told Troy (Peters) that I didn’t feel as called to the lyrics, didn’t know what to do,” Raveneau said, revealing that he is a pastor outside of his musical endeavors. “I asked him if I could do something special and he was totally down for it.”
Raveneau’s voice held out strong and firm in its own soulful splendor as he courageously laid deeply into “Amazing Grace” as a prelude to the classic tune. His violin solo to mimic Prince’s guitar was equally as deft in execution and the tone was set for an unforgettable exploration of one of the most seminal albums of the 1980s.
The crowd roared for Mariachi Campanas de America, as the more than one dozen members, donned in full mariachi suits, belted out a pure San Antonio rendition of When Doves Cry, replete with three-part harmonies, epic trumpet solos and enough passion to pass muster on this chart-topping number from the album.
Musical Director Troy Peters gently layered his orchestrations to provide room for the amplified musicians to soar, and roar when appropriate, perhaps nowhere more majestically than in the title track performed by indie-soul group fishermen. Lead singer Edwin Stephens displayed a diaphanous demonstration of the artist’s classic feminine wail, and so did many others.
Alyson Alonzo, who has performed in all three of the YOSA collaborations, was at first hesitant about her voice in performance of the piece How Come You Don’t Call Me.
“I almost told Troy that it wasn’t right for me, I couldn’t do it,” Alonzo said backstage before her performance. “But he was convinced. So I said ‘Gotta listen to Papa Troy’.”
She did not disappoint. Her honeyed soul poured forth alongside the gospel vocals of Carly Garza and Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson – who also gave an impressive performance with Foreign Arm in a performance of I Would Die For You.
Other special additions to the night included Nina Diaz‘s rendition of Nothing Compares To You and Nothing Chief‘s Nic Long who took a full page from the Prince playbook when he stripped down to leather pants and a cut-off top to dance to the hit Kiss.
At the end of the performance, the stage was illuminated for the encore of 1999. The Yosa Philharmonic and full cast of local artists joined together in full force to an audience dancing, clapping and singing along.