This Saturday at Jones Hall, the Houston Symphony will take on the music of Led Zeppelin, as arranged by conductor Brent Havens. It's sure to be an awesome show, and I personally think it's sort of a brilliant idea. Hard rock and metal have always had elements that gel well with classical and symphonic music.
Deep Purple and Metallica both did it to great effect. But while the orchestra's Zeppelin tribute will surely be fantastic to hear, I can't help but think that this idea could apply equally well to some contemporary acts. Why should classic rock get all the symphonic treatments? Here are five current acts I think would be perfect for the gig.
5. Bjork Bjork's dancier, rhythm-based tracks may be difficult to carry over to a symphony, but the complex arrangements of many of her best songs would probably sound great. Some of her material is rather sparse, but imagine "Hyperballad" or "Joga" performed by the Houston Symphony. That would be a can't-miss performance.
If we're fantasizing right now, I have to admit that seeing the Icelandic singer herself performing with them would be even more amazing. It seems like the sort of gig that would be right up her alley, as she has already performed with symphonies before, and it would be the first time she's played in Houston as as many years as I can remember.
4. The Mars Volta My bias is showing big time on this one, as I am a self-admitted massive fan of the psych-prog freaks. However, hear me out. Over the course of their six records, they delved into many complex arrangements, including some classical elements that would translate particularly well to a symphony.
Their 2005 record, Frances the Mute, is particularly dying for the symphonic treatment. These guys were one of the closest analogues to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd in recent years, without being a trite rip-off of either band. Additionally, those bands have already shown themselves to be perfect for this, so I could definitely hear the Volta's music in this context.
3. Dream Theater There's already been a great symphonic tribute to Dream Theater released, but there's always room for new arrangements and selections. I've not always been the biggest supporter of their music, but do have to give their arrangements and the complexity of their music major props. Taken on by the Houston Symphony, this could be incredible.
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The most obvious selections would be their breakout record Images and Words or their huge hit Metropolis Pt. II: Scenes from a Memory. However, I'd love to hear a good overview of their entire career, since so much of their music would lend itself perfectly to this idea.
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2. St. Vincent Even though St. Vincent doesn't have a massive catalog of music to choose from yet, she's already shown herself to be one of the greatest, most eclectic songwriters of our generation. I think that, despite the pop quality of her arrangements, this one could work out really well if given enough love by a talented conductor.
1. El-P This may be my oddest choice here, but El-P's talent as a producer is astronomical and his instrumental work is some of his greatest. He has so much great stuff to choose from, and I think that a symphonic take on his music would be exceptionally interesting because it would be so far removed from the compositions' original contexts.
The track I've included above, "Contagious Snippet" from his Weareallgoingtoburninhellmegamixx3, is just one track I think would be amazing to hear in this context, because it's one of his works that has more of a full-band aspect to it. Even some of his more sparse work could be very interesting as well, though.
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