Symphonic Rock: The Music of Led Zepplin, performed by an orchestra

Bridging the gulf between rock n’ roll and classical music, conductor/arranger Brent Havens takes the podium to present The Music of Led Zeppelin, a program he scored to extend the listening experience of Led Zeppelin’s timeless tunes. The performance will be this Sat. 5/3 at the Long Center.

Performed by an orchestra and amplified with a full rock band and screaming vocals, Havens and his ensemble capture Led Zeppelin’s “sheer blast and power” riff for riff while cranking out new musical colors

“My concept for The Music of Led Zeppelin was to take the music as close to the originals as we could and then add some colors to enhance what Zep had done,” says Havens. “The wonderful thing with an orchestra is that you have an entire palette to call upon. The band is reproducing what Led Zeppelin did on the albums, verbatim, and then having an orchestra behind the band gives the music richness, a whole different feel, a whole different sense of power.”

Delivering a note-for-note interpretation, vocalist Randy Jackson (lead singer of the rock band Zebra), shrieks brilliantly, acting as a window between the audience and reworked material. “The music itself is one thing, but Jackson more than captures the spirit of legendary Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant,” says Havens.

Heightened by rock concert lighting, the symphonic rock hybrid has met with riotous approval at both ends of the hall, explains Havens; “When we first came on stage, the audience gave us polite, almost classical applause. Then we hit the first note and they realized it was a rock show.”

Classical musicians also enjoy the change of pace; “In one concert, during Stairway to Heaven, the entire string section pulled out Bic lighters!” laughs Havens.

With the support of show producer Rob Cross, Artistic Director of the Virginia Arts Festival, Havens first conceived the show for the Virginia Symphony (where Cross was orchestra manager at the time). Since then, they’ve taken the show on the road. The program has already played in Atlanta, Denver, Jacksonville, and Buffalo. Plays are planned this year in Wilkes-Barre, Albany, Akron, Long Island, NY and more.

The project’s appeal is in large part due to the music’s authenticity. When the music was first discussed in 1994 Havens understood that Led Zeppelin fans would want to hear the original, familiar elements of the music. He therefore followed exact line arrangements and used the orchestra only for enhancement.


April 28, 2008. Uncategorized.

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