March 30, 2009 - The Long Center’s First Anniversary Gala Concert
     It was certainly worth the wait.  At Thursday night’s black tie event to celebrate the first anniversary of The Long Center, the dinner started later than planned.  Which meant the
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concert itself was held up for about 20 minutes.
     But the weather was beautiful, the crowd was giddy, and the show was another artistic achievement for the now-iconic performing arts center.  
    Special guests Marvin Hamlisch and Linda Eder were both enchanting, backed by members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra.  Channeling a seasoned Borscht Belt comic, Hamlisch delivered well-rehearsed one-liners mixed with spur-of-the-moment jokes.  His “happy birthday” shtick - where he played the traditional song as if he were different famous
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composers - was a big hit with the symphony-educated crowd, who laughed and applauded the thematic musical humor.
     Broadway and concert star Linda Eder looked and sounded radiant, performing a set of theatre and American standards.  With musical phrasing that honored Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, her selection of songs received more than one well-deserved standing ovation.  And her rendition of “Man of La Mancha” - one of the whole reasons I wanted to see her perform at the event - was just as spectacular in-person as on her recordings.
     But the real star of the night was The Long Center itself.  The sound quality of the building is unbelievable; you can easily hear every note from every instrument on the stage (and every cough from the audience - even from the balconies).  And combining that acoustic perfection with the performers’ talents, the first anniversary concert became magical.
     As the audience spilled onto the City Terrance, cabaret star Sharon Montgomery sang while downtown sparkled.  And with birthday cupcakes and glasses of champagne in hand, the crowd lingered to chat with friends and simply enjoy the view.