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Rock Meets Classical at Fortissimo

A “Symphonic Collision of the Precise and the Unbound”

By Ben Larson

Fort Wayne Reader


“An unprecedented spirit of collaboration and wiiiiide open minds,” is how the Fort Wayne Philharmonic describes Fortissimo, an upcoming musical event that looks to be simultaneously canonical and unorthodox. On July 8th, the Phil will join forces with three different bands for a night of musical reinterpretation at IPFW’s Auer Performance Hall. Of the three bands joining the Philharmonic on stage, two will be local — power-pop rockers The Orange Opera, and post-rock trio Metavari. The third act will the critically-acclaimed, Nashville-based Clem Snide. I got a chance to interview two of the people involved in the project — Bradley Thachuk, the Phils’ associate conductor and the man scoring the evening; and Kevin Hambrick, frontman for The Orange Opera. Here’s what they had to say.

Bradley Thachuk — Fortissimo Conductor

FWR: How did this project come to you?

BT: It was set up thru the administration actually. I had nothing to do with the inception. I joined the conversation after the concept had been solidified. Kudos to Jeff Hunsinger the General Manager who has a commitment to local talent.

FWR: What were your initial feelings on doing this? Has that changed since you started?

BT: It's a great idea and I have been enthusiastic throughout the process.

FWR: I'm told that you are doing the scoring for the program. How's that going?

BT: Slower than other scoring projects. Since none of the songs are published, I have to sit with the recordings and transcribe by ear. It's helping me get my guitar chops back though!

FWR: How's the rehearsal process, as well as the other preparations, going?

BT: Outside of the arranging, all other prep takes place the week of the concert. The FWP is a professional orchestra and this is normal.

FWR: Have there been any major differences between trying to score for the Orange Opera and Clem Snide, who only use live instruments, and Metavari, where much of the music is programmed and played back via laptop?

BT: Yes. But in a good way. Metavari is joining us on classical works, so figuring out how to incorporate their sound with pre-existing classical works has been exciting.

FWR: Have there been any specific challenges that you didn't see coming?

BT: Sitting with a guitar picking out songs. I did it as a teenager lifting Van Halen licks, but I was out of practice.

FWR: This performance is really the first of its kind, at least as far as including local rock bands collaborating with the Phil. Has this lead you to think differently about the local music scene?

BT: Not at all. My buddy Gerald and I would head out all the time to check out live music on the weekends. No matter where I am, supporting local musicians has been important.

FWR: I hear that this will be your final performance with the Phil. How do you feel having this event as your last?

BT: Bittersweet. It's a great event... But no one can feel 100% glad to be leaving a city and all the people they love.

FWR: What's up next for you?

BT: Well the last week of June I'm filming a documentary with a Canadian pop star and the Niagara Symphony (my new orchestra) for HBO and CMT and recording it for worldwide release. After Fortissimo I'm off to conduct the world-famous Cincinnati Pops. After that, I'm going to pack up my stuff, put it in storage and take a much needed 5 week vacation. The plan now is the Jersey Shore, Los Angeles and Barcelona... All with great friends.

Kevin Hambrick — The Orange Opera

FWR: How did you get involved with the project?

KH: Matt Kelley had hinted at the idea before and told me he thought we would be a good fit for it.

FWR: What did you think when the idea was first presented to you?

KH: I was super excited and keeping my fingers crossed that it would happen.

FWR: What kind of material will you be doing?

KH: Three original songs and one Beatles song.

FWR: How's the preparation going?

KH: Well, it's kind of different. I met with Brad from the Phil a month ago and went over what song I picked and we talked about how we would do this. He will score out the music to one of our songs and also the Beatles tune. At some point I might hear a rough draft of his idea for our tune, besides that, it will be a couple quick practices with the Phil the day before and of the concert.

FWR: I know that there have been national acts who have played with the Phil. What do you think has happened with the arts scene here in Fort Wayne that has lead to organizations like the Phil to collaborate with local artists, as well as national?

KH: I think a lot of it is from people like Matt Kelley who make great ideas like this happen.

FWR: Do you see this as something of a sea change for the local arts scene?

KH: Hopefully, but it's a lot of stuff to put together for those in charge and we'll have to see how this first show goes.

Fortissimo happens Friday, July 8. Tickets are $15, and can be purchased online through www.fwphil.org, by calling 260 481-0777 or at the Phil box office at 4901 Fuller Drive. For more information, visit www.twicetheforte.com

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