October 10, 2003

Amy Bracken Sparks of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Akron Symphony Orchestra will tackle the work of Page, Plant, Bonham and Jones this weekend at the E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall in Akron, Ohio, the orchestra's regular home.

According to Jeffrey Sperry, executive director of the 52-year-old orchestra, 50 members of the 83-member orchestra will join a five-piece rock band onstage, led by guest conductor Brent Havens, for a one-night-only performance of the LED ZEPPELIN repertoire, dubbed "The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony".

"We're very excited about it," says Sperry.

"Everyone's going into it with the idea that it'll be a fun evening. The orchestra has, of course, played a pops repertoire but never any rock arrangements.

"It's going to bring a lot of people into our concert hall, people we'd like to have come more often. And the orchestra will be amplified for once."

A composer who trained at Berklee School of Music in Boston, Havens has written music for feature films, television shows and TV commercials such as Kal Kan pet food, Mars candy bars, Uncle Ben's Rice and the Christian Broadcasting Network. He's also arranged music for such singers as Glen Campbell, Debbie Boone, Crystal Gayle, CeCe Winans and Della Reese.

Havens grew up listening to jazz, but rock 'n' roll holds a special place in his heart. Not only has he arranged LED ZEPPELIN for orchestra, he's also done the same with the music of THE DOORS and PINK FLOYD.

"We're trying to do the music of LED ZEPPELIN as accurately as possible," Havens says. "Some of the guitar solos are note for note. My concept was to stay as close to the originals as possible and then just add some colors to enhance what ZEP had already done. The orchestra brings a new palette of sounds. Between the band and the orchestra, we'll create an intense wall of sound."

What amazes Havens, when deconstructing ZEPPELIN songs, are the "intricate rhythm patterns and unusual progressions." On classics such as "Ocean", he says, "the meter changes are all over the place. And on 'Black Dog', the whole orchestra is playing the same thing."

Handling the inimitable voice of Robert Plant during the performance will be Randy Jackson, lead singer for the band ZEBRA. Backing Jackson are Daniel Clemens on bass, Powell Randolph on drums, Tom Jones on guitar and Allegra Havens on electric violin. Jackson "more than captures the spirit" of Plant, Brent Havens says. Read more.

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