DPO gets ‘Closer to Fine’

An Evening with Indigo Girls at Schuster Center

By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

Photo: Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls will perform with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra on June 20

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are the harmonic, Grammy Award-winning duo known as Indigo Girls and have been playing music together since their high school days in Atlanta. They’ve done it all—from self-producing; to contracting with a major record company; to starting their own company, IG Records. Now they’re touring the country, performing with local orchestras. You can catch them on Saturday, June 20, at the Schuster Center as the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO) presents “An Evening with Indigo Girls.”

Dayton City Paper recently spoke with new mom Ray who recently released her first country album, Goodnight Tender. While Ray enjoys her solo work, she says she always looks forward to collaborating with Saliers.

“I love the differences that we have,” Ray says. “She’s got a different vocal range than mine. She writes differently than I do. She plays differently than I do. I love having that great relationship with someone that’s so opposite. And being able to bring it together and make music is really cool. I’m never bored. There’s always an interesting perspective, and she’s always going to bring something that I couldn’t bring to the table. My favorite thing that we do is sing harmony. That’s the core of what we do.”

Fans can expect a lot of familiar favorites from “An Evening with Indigo Girls.”

“It’s an overview of songs that we picked from all of our records that we really always wanted to do with an orchestra,” Ray says. “There’s a lot of dimension and layers. The orchestra arrangements pick up different parts on the records, harmony parts and guitar parts that we can’t cover all by ourselves.”

As someone who has been playing music most of her life, it excites Ray to experience Indigo Girls songs afresh.

“We get a lot out of it because every time we play with a different symphony we hear the songs in a different way because everybody interprets the scores slightly differently,” Ray says. “Every symphony is made up of different players. How many horn players in one symphony is different from another symphony, so you hear different parts come out more according to what symphony you’re playing with. It’s really super fun.”

DPO Music Director Neal Gittleman explained his process in preparing for “An Evening with Indigo Girls.”

“You really have to know the recorded versions pretty well in your head to know the shape and the style and the feel of the music,” he says. “Then I’ll sit down and look at the orchestra parts and sort of see if that jibes with what I hear on the recorded version. Then it’s just get it in your body and in your mind and in your heart.

“When you’re a performing artist like they are, the songs that they do exist in a lot of different versions,” Gittleman continues, giving his take on the experience of playing established songs with an orchestra. “There’s the recorded version, there’s the touring version that they perform when they’re on tour, there are probably different configurations that they play depending on the size of the venue and who is with them at any given time, and then there’s the version of the song that may exist only in their own heads, of how they sort of dream of hearing it. I suspect that when they play with orchestras, they’re getting either a different version or maybe, hopefully, they’re getting closer to that imaginary one that they dream of hearing.”

Gittleman explains why each performance with a given orchestra will be different than the performance with the last.

“Every orchestra has its own character and its own sound, and the exact same music played by two different orchestras could sound very, very different depending on the groups and the magic of the moment,” he says.

“An Evening with Indigo Girls” is part of DPO’s Rockin’ Orchestra series, which has also included The Music of Elton John and Symphonic Springsteen.

“With most shows that are on our Rockin’ Orchestra Series, most of the time that orchestra has to play is not typically as difficult as what we play in, say, a normal classical concert,” Gittleman says. “It’s not the sort of thing that they need to woodshed a whole lot before rehearsal. I mean, they need to look at it and familiarize themselves with it. So usually the tension level is a little bit lower at these rehearsals than if we’re doing Beethoven or Mahler or Stravinsky or something like that. So they tend to be kind of fun.”

Gittleman says he hopes that the fun element will appeal to a wide audience.

“It’s very important for an orchestra to have a broad repertoire, especially for an orchestra like ours in a small city,” he says. “We need to create as many doorways that people can walk through to experience the orchestra.”

Having the beloved Indigo Girls as guests will certainly draw a crowd. The event will attract not only DPO devotees, but also Indigo Girls fans that have every lyric committed to heart.

“Everyone sings along to ‘Closer to Fine,’” Ray says. “The symphony is playing and the audience is singing the whole last verse by themselves, like karaoke symphony.”

“I think they’re good songs and they’re really interesting, wonderful lyrics that really get at the heart of the emotion and they create a mood,” Gittleman says. “Just to be part of that for an evening will be really fun.”

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra presents “An Evening with Indigo Girls,” Saturday, June 20 at the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $29 to $81 with special reduced prices for students. Tickets may be purchased at the Ticket Center Stage box office, 138 N. Main St., by phone at 937.228.3630, or online at ticketcenterstage.com. To get the latest news on Indigo Girls, please visit indigogirls.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com. To read more from Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin, visit her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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About Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

View all posts by Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin is a writer and amateur cartographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She has been a member of PUSH (Professionals United for Sexual Health) since 2012 and is currently serving as Chair. She can be reached at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com or through her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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