Dayton Philharmonic Teams with Londoners to Perform Queen
By Tim Anderl
Imagine you are in England’s Wembley Stadium in 1986. The roar of the crowd gives way to the monstrous sound of thousands of feet and hands stomping and clapping in unison: stomp, stomp, clap, stomp, stomp, clap …
In a performance sure to ignite the imagination, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rockin’ Orchestra Series will present a collaboration with conductor Richard Sidwell and cast members from the original West End London production of the musical We Will Rock You, performing songs from the robust and legendary back catalogue of one of the world’s greatest and most loved rock bands, Queen. With over 60 performers on stage including a full rock band, stars from the London show and the orchestra, this is one of the biggest rock-group-with-orchestra productions anywhere.
Since 1968, Queen has sold over 150 million albums, captured 18 number one hits, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and is recognized as one of the most influential British musical exports of all time. DPO’s performance promises many of those beloved songs, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are The Champions,” “Somebody To Love,” “Killer Queen,” “Fat Bottomed Girls” and more.
“I’ve always thought of Queen’s vocal style and harmonic approach as a sort of rock ’n roll chamber choir,” said David Bukvic, Marketing Director for the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. “A band with this type of progressive rock sound aligns itself well with the sound of an orchestra. The music of Queen lends itself to translation and performance in a symphonic setting.”
The performance is inspired by the long-running British musical We Will Rock You, written by British comedian and author Ben Elton in collaboration with Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor. The musical was first produced in London, opening in the West End at the Dominion Theatre on May 14, 2002. It has since become the longest running musical in Dominion Theatre’s history. A number of international productions have followed the original, and the musical has been performed in Ireland, Sweden, Australian, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and countless other countries.
“Members of Queen themselves gave rise to the West End production,” said Bukvic. “For our concerts, we’re fortunate to have the involvement of a veteran conductor and players from the show in our performance.”
DPO’s Rockin’ Orchestra Series began developing the experience for audiences in the Gem City first in the 2010-11 lineup. It has now expanded to four concerts. One of the DPO’s most popular offerings, the Rockin’ Orchestra Series explores psychedelia and progressive rock through the music of rock and roll’s most innovative and influential bands.
“Innovation is intrinsic to the Dayton Philharmonic’s DNA. There are few orchestras in the country that are more accessible and varied than the DPO. And we’re the first orchestra in the country to package this type of rock-with-orchestra experience into a series. Beginning three years ago, we tested these performances with Fifty Years of Rock and Roll, A Night At Woodstock and The music of ABBA. Those performances were all hits. So our series has grown to four performances of this genre for this season and into the future,” said Bukvic. “The Schuster Center’s Mead Theater is a finely honed instrument that can be tuned for any type of performance due to the acoustics and high-end sound design at our disposal,” he added.
“This allows us to take the rock and roll experience to a whole new level. The theater is a controlled sonic environment that is far superior to arenas or outdoor concert venues where rock and roll is typically performed. The combination of our high quality sound and full orchestra yields a visceral experience that most rock bands would have loved to have at their disposal.”
The Queen-inspired performance has already been well received, with the March 10th 8:00p.m. performance quickly selling out. A second, 3:00p.m. performance was added to accommodate the demand for tickets.
Founded in 1933, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the Miami Valley’s oldest and longest standing cultural institutions. Calling the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center its home, the regional orchestra includes 83 contracted musicians. The DPO is known for unique programming and an enthusiasm for bringing symphonic music to listeners with varying musical tastes. As a result, the orchestra has received the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music nine times.
(Though the March 10 8:00p.m. performance is sold out, a second show has been added for March 10 at 3:00p.m. at the Schuster Center’s Mead Theatre. Tickets are $84, $66, $56 and $42. Students get a 50 percent discount at the $56 and $42 levels. There’s a $2 discount for seniors. Call (888) 228-3630 or go to www.daytonphilharmonic.com.)
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.