Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The "Real" Dark Star Orchestra

No disrespect to the grand 'ol Dead cover band extraordinaire the Dark Star Orchestra, but the DSO has a little acronym-related, Grateful Dead performing competition with Baltimore's BSO....which is actually the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. As in the Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach playing variety. It will be fun to see the mix of tuxes and tie-dyes.

From the BSO's website...
Fittingly on Jerry Garcia's birthday, the BSO will delve into the psychedelic world of The Dead on Friday, August 1 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the world premiere performance of Lee Johnson's Dead Symphony No. 6. Dead Symphony No. 6 is the first orchestral tribute to The Grateful Dead ever composed. (The No. 6 signifies that it is Johnson's Sixth Symphony.) The symphony dedicates separate movements to Grateful Dead hits "Saint Stephen," "Here Comes Sunshine," "Mountains of the Moon," "Blues for Allah," "Sugar Magnolia," "To Lay Me Down," "If I Had the World to Give," "Stella Blue," "Bird Songs" and "China Doll." The symphony also features a symphonic jam session during the "Stella Blue" movement. In keeping with The Dead's performance style, Pro Video Group of Baltimore will recreate a psychedelic video presentation to play behind the orchestra during this performance.
A little background:

Work began on the symphony in 1995, shortly after Jerry Garcia's death, when record producer and Deadhead Mike Adams contacted Johnson with the idea for the symphony.

"I wasn't a Deadhead at the time, so I had to start at the beginning," Johnson said. "I bought everything The Dead had published and became a student of their art. I would finish a movement or two and gather up those that loved The Grateful Dead and see what happened when I played it for them. Their honest reactions told me everything. Tears, smiles, closed eyes and sometimes dancing. Any new movement that didn't create a genuine vibe in the listening room went away for good."

The culmination of Johnson's hard work paid off in 2007 when the Russian National Orchestra recorded and released Dead Symphony No. 6. The recording soon found its way into the hands of the BSO's Manager of Facility Sales, Toby Blumenthal.

"After listening to the symphony, I felt performing this 'world premiere' could take the BSO in a new and exciting direction," Blumenthal said. "There will be many new members in the audience that are passionate about the Grateful Dead, but may have never seen a live orchestra before. The BSO has the first opportunity to showcase the music of The Grateful Dead in what would be considered a 'non-traditional way.' What better time to present this concert than on Jerry Garcia's birthday?"

Johnson agreed. "American culture is rich," he said. "Our way of life is of profound fascination to much of the world; both for its strengths and weaknesses. The Grateful Dead are the real deal and it is time for the orchestral world to be able to enjoy some of the fun and some of the wonder."

Props to Toby for being the catalyst to making this happen in Baltimore. Us kids at The Weight know Toby very well from our days growing up in Baltimore with him. I'm actually hoping for a Terrapin Station bustout with Univ. of Maryland only about 30 miles away!

Also, check out this .mp3 clip of the BSO getting their freak on with St. Stephen!

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Maybe the coolest thing I've read in a while. Really love this idea! I want a streaming video of Heads spinning in the aisles during this show. Hell, maybe a road trip :)