Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs Works by Frank Zappa and Philip Glass, July 23

Program also features Baltimore beatboxer, Shodekeh, in excerpts from new concerto for beatboxer and strings, Fujiko’s Fairy Tale

Music Director Marin Alsop will conduct the BSO in The Music of Frank Zappa and Philip Glass on Friday, July 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The concert pays tribute to the musical triumphs of the Baltimore-born composers who pushed the music envelope. To connect the avant-garde movement of Zappa and Glass to the next generation of artists, Baltimore beatboxer Shodekeh makes his BSO debut in the U.S. premiere of Fujiko’s Fairy Tale by Finnish composer Jan Mikael Vainio.

From his early work with the band Mothers of Invention to his classical, rock, jazz and electronic compositions, Frank Zappa is revered for the complexity and versatility of his music. “Frank Zappa dabbled in virtually all kinds of music,” says Rolling Stone. “Whether guised as a satirical rocker, jazz-rock fusionist, guitar virtuoso, electronics wizard or orchestral innovator, his eccentric genius was undeniable.” Zappa’s music interweaves a plethora of genres and instruments that transcends typical sounds and messages of popular music. Maestra Alsop and the BSO will perform Zappa’s own great orchestral versions of Be-Bop Tango and Dupree’s Paradise, as well as Outrage at Valdez and G-Spot Tornado.

The program concludes with four movements from Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 4, “Heroes,” based on the David Bowie and Brian Eno 70’s album Heroes. “Philip [Glass] has put more of himself in this new [work], but the irony is that I believe that he's actually put his finger on more of my original voice,” said David Bowie. “It was though Philip had fed into my voice...but somehow had arrived, I feel, a lot nearer to the gut feeling of what I was trying to do.” Movements I, IV, V and VI will be played of what the Los Angeles Times calls "a dramatically sweeping, pull-out-the-stops piece."

The concert will also introduce a 33-year-old Baltimore beatboxer, Shodekeh, in a unique collaboration of vocal drumming (beatboxing) with orchestra. Shodekeh is a Prince George’s County native and Coppin State University graduate. In 2004, he worked as an usher at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall “to be close to music” and then moved to New York City to pursue his dream of beatboxing. With a large following in the Baltimore area, he has even been praised by such esteemed critics as Roger Ebert. “He's the only percussion section I've ever seen with choreography,” says Ebert. “The personal element he puts into his performances uplifts a song and carries it along. His joy is infectious.” Shodekeh will perform the beatbox solo in Jan Mikael Vainio’s Fujiko’s Fairy Tale, a concerto written for strings and beatboxer that made its world debut with the Mikkeli Orchestra in Finland in February 2010. Shodekeh will also open the second half of the concert with beatbox improvisations, serving as lead-in for Glass’ Symphony No. 4, “Heroes.”

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