At its next performance, the Vancouver Island Symphony will be augmented by the addition of a five-piece rock group as it takes on the prolific oeuvre of David Bowie.
Ontario-based Jeans N’ Classics is a group of musicians led by founder and arranger Peter Brennan that tours the continent sitting in with orchestras to perform classic rock music with classical accompaniment.
On March 9 the Jeans N’ Classics band will join the VIS for Power! A Night of Bowie at the Port Theatre. The band and symphony have partnered in the past in concerts centred on the repertoires of the Beatles, Elton John and various Canadian rock musicians.
Brennan said the orchestra and band are integrated in a “homogeneous” way, with members of the VIS “front and centre.”
He added that when arranging the songs to suit a symphony, he endeavours to keep the classical musicians busy and engaged, since playing pop tunes is not much of a challenge for them.
“But at the same time, of course, you have to be very mindful that you don’t want to destroy something that was perhaps simplistic or perhaps very pure in its original form, that being the material that we’re doing,” Brennan explained. “So you don’t want to get in the way of it and yet you really want to bring the orchestra into the forefront.”
Jeans N’ Classics has been staging its Bowie program for the last decade, periodically modifying it over that time. Brennan said Bowie’s work lends itself well to orchestral arrangements.
“They’re great songs and regardless of what era and what persona Bowie was putting out there, his songs were well written, well structured and very interesting…” he said. “It was so cleverly done and thought through and so much uniqueness went into it. It never stops being interesting to try and adapt, to try and create along with and hopefully wherever Bowie is, he’s smiling.”
WHAT’S ON … Vancouver Island Symphony presents Power! A Night of Bowie featuring the Jeans N’ Classics Band at the Port Theatre on Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $42 to $74, $18 for students.