Every summer, the Utah Symphony trades in Beethoven, Prokofiev and Mozart for Bono, Plant and Mercury, if only for a weekend. Concerts dedicated to classic rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Queen and the Rolling Stones have become a fixture at the orchestra’s Deer Valley Music Festival. This weekend, conductor Brent Havens returns for a fifth straight year to lead the Utah Symphony in music of U2. The frontman will be Brody Dolyniuk, who has been featured in music of Queen and the Rolling Stones on past Deer Valley seasons. Both musicians answered questions submitted via email.
How do you approach songs that are associated with such iconic interpreters as Freddie Mercury and Bono?
At Deer Valley
The Deer Valley Music Festival continues with the Utah Symphony performing music of John Williams and U2. On Friday, July 11, Jeff Tyzik will lead the orchestra in selections from “Superman,” “Jaws,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T.,” “Star Wars” and the “Harry Potter” films, among others. On Saturday, July 12, conductor Brent Havens and vocalist Brody Dolyniuk will join the orchestra in songs spanning the Irish band’s 30-plus-year career.
When » Both concerts start at 7:30 p.m.
Where » Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater at Deer Valley Resort
Tickets » Starting at $32 ($15 for youth); visit www.deervalleymusicfestival.org for details
Dolyniuk: I grew up singing along with these songs. Without really thinking about it, I gravitated towards matching the vocal timbres of the different singers, and that sort of stuck. So I’d say I try to approximate the different voices without becoming campy about it. And my onstage persona is 100 percent me, although occasionally I’ll throw in a signature move or gesture as a nod to the original, just in fun.
Do you approach the music differently when you have an orchestra, rather than a rock band, behind you?
Dolyniuk: I don’t really think about that much. The music moves you, whether it’s an acoustic guitar, a four-piece rock band, a symphony or all the above. I try to follow the emotion and energy of the music, whatever that may be.
How do you choose which artists/acts to feature, how long have you been doing the U2 show and what’s on your wish list?
Havens: This is only the second performance of this show. We premiered the show only a couple of weeks ago in Atlanta with the Atlanta Symphony.
I have an entire matrix that I go through when trying to decide what groups to feature with orchestras: items such as U.S. sales, the size of the groups’ catalogs, the type and style of music and whether I think that music is conducive to orchestral arrangements and whether I think I can make it work, etc. Obviously, there are a great number of popular groups out there, but finding the ones that meet all of the criteria is more difficult and I have to feel comfortable with the music.
What are your most popular shows, and do the audiences’ tastes coincide with the orchestras’?
We currently have 11 shows that tour, and which ones are most popular changes from year to year. For a while, our Michael Jackson show was very popular, and then it was our Stones show. Our Zeppelin and Pink Floyd shows have been perennially popular (they were our very first two shows), as has our Eagles show. It’s also interesting to see how popular some shows are in different parts of the country. The Eagles show is very popular in the South and West, and some of our other shows are more popular in the North and East. As far as coinciding with the tastes of the orchestras, it’s tough to say, as the musicians seem to have fun with almost all of the shows, and that’s a good thing.
How do you put together your set lists, and who does your charts?
I end up having the final decision on the setlists, but I get a lot of input from my staff and artists. They are immensely helpful since they are so well versed (much more so than I am) with these groups. But ultimately it’s my responsibility to set which songs we are going to perform and in what order. I write all of the arrangements (charts) for all of the shows.
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