Jeans 'n Classics has a philosophy about getting baby boomers and younger music fans interested in orchestral music -- play songs they know and like.
So the London, Ontario-based troupe has created nearly four dozen shows featuring orchestral arrangements of songs by rock favorites ranging from ABBA and the Beatles to Motown and Prince. They've also worked in tandem with artists such as Supertramp's Roger Hodgson, Triumph's Rik [cq] Emmett and Styx's Lawrence Gowan, and next week it rolls into Detroit with its "Endless Summer -- The Music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys."
"Once you do it, you never want to go back," says creative director Peter Brennan. "It's such an awesome musical experience. We have a lot of material where orchestras never trod before. The challenge is always not to lose the integrity of a great pop song and, yet, we don't want to have the orchestra up there playing whole notes and being bored to tears.
"So we've tried very, very hard over the years to be true to both worlds and bridge that gap and keep everybody happy. So far, so good."
Brennan says Jeans 'n Classics faced some resistance from orchestras when it started 15 years ago. But time and changing demographics within the ensembles -- not to mention responsive audiences -- have resulted in a warmer working relationship.
"We find that orchestra players -- the younger ones, particularly -- they're just as much at home playing Mahler as they are playing John Williams as they are playing John Lennon," Brennan explains. "The attitude seems to be, 'If it's good let's do it right and let's have fun doing it.'
"It's a whole different headspace from an older group of players that we don't see anymore who would be, 'I don't want to play this (stuff)! I'm a serious player!' Now everyone's much more open, and it works for the players and for the audience."
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra present "Endless Summer -- The Music of Brian Wilson & the Beach Boys" with Jeans 'n Classics and conductor Steve Reineke, at five shows Thursday (Feb. 18) through Feb. 21 at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $19-$45. Call 313-576-5111 or visit www.detroitsymphony.com.
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