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"The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony" comes to the Civic Center Arena

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ARTSplus: The Symphony gets the led out

50 members of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra join up with five rock musicians for 'The Music of Led Zeppelin'

By GARY PANETTA (gpanetta@pjstar.com) Journal Star

If you attend "The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony" next Saturday, prepare to bring your lighters.

And be prepared to rock.

When 50 players from the Peoria Symphony Orchestra join up with five bona fide rock musicians who know every lick and cadence of this classic 1970s group, the result in the Civic Center arena will be something both ear-opening and maybe eardrum-shattering as well.

"What we hear from audiences is that they had no idea that a symphony orchestra could actually rock out," said Brent Havens, a Berklee-trained arranger and conductor who has worked with the Doobie Brothers and has written music heard on ABC, CBS and ESPN.

"They thought it was staid and proper — you're going to hear Tchaikovsky, you're going to hear Bach or Beethoven or whoever. They had no idea that you have an instrument like a violin really just ripping and rocking out like a guitar player."

Fans won't be disappointed, Havens said. Every detail of the music is faithfully reproduced — with the addition of strings, woodwinds and brass wrapped around the rock players. Even singer Randy Jackson manages not only to look but also to sound like Robert Plant. Nevertheless, the purely instrumental players are not simply extras. Half of the orchestra may be playing a lick usually assigned to a lead guitar while the other half plays counterpoint.

"It's this really enriching palette of sounds," Havens said. "This isn't a classical concert, this isn't a pops concert with just the orchestra doing the music of Led Zeppelin. This is an out and out rock concert, and the orchestra is as much an integral part of it as the band is."

The rock-symphony concept began in 1995 as a way of boosting exposure for symphony orchestras. Although "The Music of Led Zeppelin" had its successes, many orchestras were stand-offish at first.

"They didn't think that rock 'n' roll and orchestras would actually work together," Havens said. "They didn't think their audiences were interested in rock 'n' roll. And they were right — their audiences weren't. But there's a whole different audience, the one we were going for."

That changed with Havens and the shows other organizers hooked up with Randy Chaplin of Chaplin entertainment in New York. Because orchestras knew and trusted Chaplin, the number of gigs increased. In addition to "The Music of Led Zeppelin," other symphony-rock combinations also have come about with the music of Pink Floyd, Queen, The Eagles and The Doors.

"We took surveys in the early years to determine how many of these people had ever been to see their local orchestra," Havens said. "Somewhere between 85 and 95 percent had never even seen them. Most didn't know they had a local orchestra. We clearly were exposing them to something they had never seen."

With exposure comes at least the potential for recruiting new classical fans. For instance, the Louisville Symphony announced that everyone present at its symphony-rock event would get in for free the next night to the Louisville Symphony's Shostakovich concert. About 150 people showed up.

"It brings us in front of a different audience," said Marcia Henry-Liebenow, the Peoria Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster. "I think it's going to be fun to do. I think it's a unique experience to have a symphony orchestra backing up a rock band. Years ago we did the Moody Blues. ... I still get comments from people. It puts us in front of a whole different audience."

Gaylon Fraser, a longtime cellist with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, also played with Liebenow and the Moody Blues back in the 1990s.

"For me, the most interesting part of the Moody Blues experience was walking out onstage and hearing the sound of 7,000 people come back at you," Fraser said. "That moment that those guys are used to — that we don't usually hear — was for a moment frightening, and then it was kind of fun."

Gary Panetta can be reached at 686-3132 or gpanetta@pjstar.com.

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I am going to see this :

Randy Jackson - 'Music of Pink Floyd'

May 15th, 2010, Saturday - 'Mahalia Jackson Theater (Municiple Auditorium)'

801 N. Rampart St.

New Orleans, LA 70116

PHONE: 504-523-6230

PHONE: 504-218-0150

TIME: 8:00pm

Featuring The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra w/ Brent Havens Conducting

Just attended Randy's aqoustic show here in Atlanta and it was great:-)

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That's great, Deborah. Don't forget to make recording of the event... B)

Just can't wait to watch that on Youtube.... :)

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The orchestra members themselves hate this stuff, and in a lot of cases take the day off and send in subs to cover it, since they have no interest in playing rock and roll. I think I mentioned this before, but a friend of mine played violin for Page/Plant in '95, and most of them had no idea who Led Zeppelin was, and they bitched and moaned through the whole show about how loud it was. We're talking about people who spend their lives practicing Mozart and Beethoven, and the idea of improvising a solo is foreign to them.

That doesn't mean it won't be a good show, but you might keep your eyes on the string section to look for the harumphing :-)

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There was a performance like this in my area recently. I didn't go and I'm wondering if anyone out there has been to one of these concerts and can give us a review. Personally I enjoy classical music but I can't see how this is going to work. Maybe a few songs like Kashmir or Rain Song could be adapted to the classical format but I think most other songs would be ruined.

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There was a performance like this in my area recently. I didn't go and I'm wondering if anyone out there has been to one of these concerts and can give us a review. Personally I enjoy classical music but I can't see how this is going to work. Maybe a few songs like Kashmir or Rain Song could be adapted to the classical format but I think most other songs would be ruined.

I have been to "The Music of Led Zeppelin" with Randy Jackson and I am going to see "The Music of Pink Floyd" with Randy in May.

These shows are great. They really respect the music. You have to see them live to really understand. My opinion is go if they are in your area.

The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony Broward Center

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I have seen this Brent Haven production 3 times here on Long Island...it is a fantastic show. The front band is fantastic with Randy Jackson (of Zebra) doing great vocals. If this orchestra production comes to your area, don't miss it!! It's a great, great show.

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Hi Gigi! :wave:

Your going to love it! Call me over the weekend if you get time..can't wait to hear your thoughts. It is a fantastic show. If you run into Randy tell him a big hello!

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Randy Jackson (singer/guitarist for Zebra) along with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra performing a Led Zeppelin tribute tonight (May 20th 2012) @ the Mahalia Jackson Theatre.

Edited by Rock Historian

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Hey Rock! We were there, too!

What ya thought?

I had a blast!!!

I am so biased because we just love Randy!!!!

But I thought they did a heck of a job!!!

George Cintron was great! And Powell Randolph, too!

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