Electric strings, Beatles, iCarly and Reason #64,738 Why the ’80s Pop Culture Legacy Lives On
Here’s where this wandering entry began: I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss noting Tuesday’s incredibly supercool “Electrify Your Strings” concert, in which Trans-Siberian Orchestra founding member Mark Wood visited Kelsey’s school, held a day of clinics and practices with the schools’ entire orchestra program, and then led them in an amazing show in the high school gym.
For awhile now, Kelsey’s practice has hinted at what we were in for, as viola versions of “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Yellow Submarine” could be heard coming from her room. But on Tuesday, when Mark got up there and the youngest orchestra (fifth- and sixth-graders) launched into Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and the The Beatles’ “All Together Now,” it was like nothing I’ve heard before, and it was awfully neat.
For every song, in addition to Mark playing his own electric Viper, a few kids came to the front of the stage and wired up, too – three or four Vipers, and then one on the Cobra electric cello – so it was way more than a classical string sound.
I don’t remember the entire set list for all three orchestras – the seventh and eighth grades played as one, and then the high schoolers – but the oldest kids did a stirring version of “Eleanor Rigby”, followed by “Live and Let Die” which they segued directly into “Stairway to Heaven.” And it was a ton of fun watching all the kids go into full-rock mode, from the orchestras working standing and hollering and bow-waving into their performances to the electric players thrashing around and jumping off the stage and going down the aisles to play in the audience.
While the high-schoolers were, predictably, the rockin’-est, for Jenn & me the high point was during “Yellow Submarine,” when Mark brought Kelsey and a friend of hers to the front of the stage. During the previous day’s in-school practice, he had asked if anyone knew all the song’s lyrics, and the two of them were the sole volunteers – so he chose them to lead the singing during the concert! As if that weren’t cool enough, when he introduced them, he complimented Kelsey’s homemade tie-dyed shirt with her own painting of John Lennon’s famous self-portrait sketch. (Yes, this pretty much brought Jenn to near tears.)
Afterward, Kelsey lined up for an autograph and a picture, and on the way home, she talked about how the whole experience had re-energized her attitude toward orchestra.
Now where this goes next is because as I was thinking about writing about it, I was also searching YouTube for a string performance of Dragonforce’s “Through the Fire and Flames” which I’d found a few months ago, and while I didn’t locate that specific version, I did land on this Vitamin String Quartet version. This promptly led to many moments lost in their tributes to Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses and Muse and yes, friends, SLAYER. And since many of those covers are Guitar Hero songs, I was reminded of one of my favorite subtle iCarly jokes: Violin Hero.
When teh Intarwebs led me in that direction, I clicked on the Twitter feed and then the blog of Dan Schneider – whom The New York Times credits as “the Norman Lear of children’s television” – and while his recent work is enough to land him on my own list of People Who Do Great Creative Things I Love, I also find out from Wikipedia that holy crap he’s Ricky from Better Off Dead!!!
Thus was my morning totally made.
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