The Russian-born violinist and Norwalk resident presents his "Rock
Concerto" with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony at the Klein Auditorium,
910 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, on Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m.,
The relationship between rock 'n' roll and classical music has often
been an uneasy one. If rock is all about freedom, then the tightly
controlled world of the classical musician is its antithesis. Still,
there have been many experiments that have tried to bring the two
separate orbits together. The New York Rock Ensemble, formed in 1969,
appeared in tails, if memory serves, and played rock songs with classical
instruments, and vice versa. Member Michael Kamen remembers: "Although
I was a Julliard student, the most creative thing I could possibly
do was to start a rock 'n' roll band. I brought the oboe into the
band not having any idea that the oboe was not a rock 'n' roll instrument.
It seemed expressive enough to me."
The group was invited to one of Leonard Bernstein's concerts for
young people with the New York Philarmonic. Kamen went on to write
a slew of film scores, including work for Die Hard , Lethal Weapon
, Band of Brothers , Open Range and Polyester.
The Ensemble paved the way for the Electric Light Orchestra, which
further moved the collaboration along. Compositions for rock group
and orchestra have tended to be a bit stilted, with alternating passages
not quite cohering into an effective whole. One of the best works
from the '70s is "Caravan" and the "New Symphonia,"
which treats the orchestra like a gigantic string section.
In recent years, the movement has been from rock to classical, as
performers like Billy Joel, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd (an opera!)
and Paul McCartney (calling on his "Sir Paul" persona) pick
up the baton for music they've written.
Now we have the latest entry in the genre, as renowned Russian-born
violinist (and Norwalk resident) Alexander Markov presents his "Rock
Concerto." Written by Markov and James Remington, the piece features
electric violin, rock band, choir and orchestra. The rock band features
Ivan Bodley, a soul music veteran and Berklee grad, on bass, and veteran
Gregg Gerson on drums. The 40-voice choir is under the direction of
Stan Wietrzychowski of Trumbull, a professor at the Hartt School of
"I share a passion and love for rock music, and I can bridge
both worlds," says Markov. At Darien High School, he adds, he
"was rebellious and wanted to try something new." That was
rock, a long flirtation that led to the concerto. It has been performed
only four times, and never before in the United States.
Markov, who studied under Jascha Heifitz, has a long history with
GBS, making his debut with the symphony at age 18 in 1982 after winning
the GBS Carlson-Horn Competition for Young Instrumentalists. He returned
for guest appearances in 1984, 1995 and 2000. "Each time, the
audience was fascinated by his boundless energy and superb stage presence,"
says Robert Tellalian of Stratford, chairman of the GBS board.
The first half of the May 20 concert will allow Markov to explore
his classical roots with such famous Romantic-era works as Massenet's
"Meditation" from his opera Thais , Sarasate's "Gypsy
Airs" and Paganini's "Variations on One String 'G'"
from Rossini's opera Moses in Egypt.
"We expect this concert to be a musical happening," comments
Jena Maric, GBS executive director.