Vanessa Williams - former Syracuse University student, former Miss America, and current star of stage, recordings, television and film - returned to Syracuse once again for a pleasingly performed concert of her own hits, as well as Broadway items, R&B, and Motown favorites. Considering that Williams has the role of Wilhelmina in the new television program "Ugly Betty," and that she has several films in production, it is a somewhat surprising but welcome event to have her back in Central New York.
The Syracuse Symphony under music director Daniel Hege began the gala evening with three "Pops" concert selections, offering up a well-controlled and finessed version of the Johann Strauss "Die Fledermaus" overture, followed by two of the late Calvin Custer's sturdiest arrangements, "Lord of the Dance" - which draws most of its inspiration from a tune that is a blood relative to the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts" - and a medley of Duke Ellington tunes.
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