Once The Beatles expanded the musical vocabulary of rock 'n' roll, many of the bands that followed stretched their sound to include classically inspired instrumentation. But while Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer executed their progressive rock symphonies with utmost seriousness, Queen was having big, operatic fun.
On Friday and Saturday, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic will tap into Queen's polyphonic instrumentation, complex harmonics and big, unforgettable melodies as Windborne Music and the Philharmonic present “The Music of Queen,” a collaboration that will turn the Civic Center Music Hall into a different kind of “Night at the Opera.”
A band featuring singer Brody Dolyniuk will take care of the Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor part of the equation, while the Philharmonic builds a kind of rhapsodic magic behind them at 8 both nights at the Civic Center, 201 N Walker.
Michelle Winters, director of marketing for the philharmonic, said the orchestra had a great time during its previous experience with Windborne Music, last year's “Music of Michael Jackson” performance. She said musical director and guest conductor Brent Havens goes to great lengths to make these concerts a truly classic experience.
“We saw just how well that's done and how much he cares about not dumping the orchestra into whole notes in the back,” Winters said. “It really enhances the performance — it's not just backing up a rock band.”
Havens, who began collaborating with symphonies in 1995 with a “Music of Led Zeppelin” performance in Virginia, has expanded his repertoire over the past two decades to include symphonic treatments of The Who, Pink Floyd, Eagles and Jackson, among others.
But he said Queen is unusually suitable for the full orchestra treatment.
“Queen fits this bill very, very well,” Havens said in a recent phone interview. “This show in particular, there's so much meat to the music — there's plenty to play. Obviously, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody' works incredibly well with the orchestra, because they get to play all of that operating stuff with the singers. And then there's ‘Who Wants to Live Forever,' which is this big orchestral piece that was in the movie ‘Highlander.' The band doesn't even come in for the first three minutes. It's basically the orchestra and Brody at that point. It's just beautiful, and there are a lot of great moments in the show.”