The Rock Symphony concerts will be led by conductor Le Phi Phi - PHOTO: COURTESY OF HBSO



Now they are doing it again, and on two nights this time. These special events will take place at the Saigon Opera House on Friday and Saturday, December 27-28, beginning at 8 p.m.

Once again the conductor will be Le Phi Phi, who last time appeared in a T-shirt and ended up singing along to some of the items.

He wasn’t the only one to sing – most of the audience were themselves singing by the time “We are the world, we are the children” and “We will rock you” arrived, and some people were dancing in the aisles. It was a huge success, and with every seat occupied. It comes as no surprise that this time the event is being staged for two nights. Nothing succeeds like success.

As before, there is a huge range of material on offer. Freddie Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody will be played early on, together with his (and Queen’s) Barcelona and Who wants to live forever.

A Boney M Selection follows, plus a selection from Elvis Presley. And it won’t be long before Hotel California fills our ears and hearts, closely followed by the Scorpions’ Still Loving You. Guns ‘N’ Roses’ 1987 hit Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door comes next.

Given that the aim of the whole event is to display how pop music can fit in with symphonic music, the next two items, themes from Mozart and themes from Beethoven, will show how classical composers can happily share a stage with pop ones.

Then follow three hard rock numbers, likely to be the most surprising for a concert by a symphony orchestra. First is Symphonic from the San Francisco-based heavy metal band Metallica (who have, however, a history of performing with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra).

Then comes Dream On from the hard rock band Aerosmith (sometimes referred to as the bad boys from Boston, an eminently respectable city).

Third is Highway Star from the English hard rock band Deep Purple, once referred to as the globe’s loudest band. It was the opening track on their 1972 album Machine Head.

Finally, two mysteries. The published program mentions “Tim Tran” as a guitarist, and a “Black Long Band”. Extensive enquiries have failed to uncover any background information about these artists, so they must remain mysteries. Come to one of the performances and all will be revealed!

It suffices to say that these Rock Symphony concerts are certain to be a major hit with Saigon audiences. The pioneering event a year ago was a huge success, and it’s certain this month’s follow-ups will be equally popular.

The performers will be the HCMC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, plus special soloists.

It’s often asked what is the connection between classical and popular music. Well, these two concerts will provide at least one answer. And the fact that they will for certain be big successes demonstrates that there is an audience for just such a cross-over experience.

Ticket prices range from VND450,000 to VND900,000, with a special concession for students of VND150,000. SGT


Bradley Winterton