In an unusual format, the new director of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane, dedicated the entire first half of the evening to an introduction to the 5th symphony, with excerpts and examples played by himself and the orchestra. While I wouldn’t want to do this every time, it was a great change, like having an entire orchestra in music appreciation class. Kahane brings a lot of energy to his performances, a real desire to inform and entertain the audience, and a great deal of knowledge. He had the orchestra play Happy Birthday with a deceptive cadence at the end, for example, to illustrate how powerful the cadence is for building and resolving tension (after a very good explanation of what a cadence is, of course). He illustrated the role of certain themes and keys throughout Beethoven’s works. With some readings, including a famous letter from Beethoven himself, we started the second half with very nice frame for the orchestra to fill in, which they did wonderfully.