Titled “Rhapsody — Color and Improvisation,” it featured an unusual selection of works chosen for an unusual reason: a widow’s request to celebrate the music her late husband loved. He, Richard Vanderbilt, was an engineer who spent his spare time, particularly after he retired, listening to the classics and jazz, evaluating how he felt about different performances available to him through live concerts, recordings, YouTube and streaming. Until Hurricane Sandy destroyed his and wife Ivonne’s home in New Jersey, he owned some 12,000 recordings. They were lost to the storm.

The couple, following the destruction, moved to Bloomington, where he continued, minus his collection, to analyze performances of his favorite compositions until his death last year. Ivonne Vanderbilt approached the Bloomington Symphony, its executive director Donna Lafferty and its artistic director and conductor Alejandro Gomez Guillen. Working from a list of Richard Vanderbilt’s favorites, they designed the program heard on Sunday.

Result: the BSO audience heard three works of musical impressionism (Claude Debussy’s “Fetes” and Prelude a “L’apres-midi d’un faune,” Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse (poeme choregraphique)”, the American composer Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings (actually Ivonne’s favorite work), and a classic George Gershwin masterpiece, “Rhapsody in Blue,” with a marvelous pianist at the Steinway: Sung-Mi Im, faculty member in the department of chamber and collaborative music at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

The orchestra was in excellent form, an ensemble worthy of being Bloomington’s community orchestra. The players now constituting the BSO are musicians not only of talent, but who perform with an enthusiasm that’s catching. In maestro Gomez Guillen they have a leader who apparently wouldn’t have it any other way; he’s an enthusiast who conducts with zeal and authority. Not only that, but as a program’s master of ceremonies, he brings charm to introductions and light touches of musical lessons for those who came to listen. His is a welcoming presence, important for audiences that include first-time symphony orchestra-goers within their ranks.

Debussy’s “Fetes,” one of the composer’s three Nocturnes and which opened the program, is a clear example of musical impressionism, with daubs of tonal colors splashed against one’s ears to suggest a festival as scene and activity, all with an overlay of dreaminess. The orchestra caught its subtleties and also the spaciousness of things happening near and afar. Like “Fetes,” Debussy’s evocation of a faun on a tranquil afternoon paints a picture in sounds, a pastoral scene into which a listener can fade in dreamy comfort, ably caught in Sunday’s reading.

Ravel’s impressionistic “La Valse,” one of the symphonic repertoire’s trickiest items, is a mercurial piece that pays homage, often in ironic form, to the Viennese waltz and its traditions. In it, the rhythms of the waltz are constantly changed, shifted, distorted, transmogrified, making the work a beast to prepare and perform. But Gomez Guillen and colleagues made a showpiece of it, as the music was meant to be.

Appropriately, after the recent weeks of tragedy and storms, the program included Samuel Barber’s elegiac Adagio for String Orchestra, a gentle expression of sadness and calm often turned to for solace. Barber’s intent was evident in the poignant performance.

To hear Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” approached in a more personal and less customary way can make the listener gain a fresh perspective on an overly familiar masterpiece. So it was when soloist Im took to the keyboard for a beautifully etched presentation of the popular piece. There were distinctiveness and distinction in her interpretation of this sometimes underappreciated composition, reconsidered moments that gave renewed freshness to what one heard. One could marvel again at what a terrific piece of music Gershwin’s Rhapsody is.

A most commendable concert Sunday’s was, and one received with cheers-filled enthusiasm.

A note: Conductor Gomez Guillen mentioned that among the musicians on stage were Ethan Murphy on cello and Edwin Greenebaum on bass. Ethan is all of 13 and the son of Otis Murphy, the gifted saxophone professor in the Jacobs School and an admired friend I saw sitting as visiting saxophonist in the BSO ranks during the Gershwin performance. Greenebaum was marking 48 seasons with the orchestra; he’s been a member since the inaugural concert. He also happens to be one of the first persons I met in Bloomington. When I searched for a house to purchase 33 years ago this month, in preparation for moving to Bloomington, I ended up purchasing his. My wife and I remain in it, joyfully.