Thursday, September 10, 2009

August 7, 1969 Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA: Pop, Bach & Rock

This advertisement from the July 7, 1969 Oakland Tribune shows an interesting attempt to find a middle ground between rock and classical music. Arthur Fiedler, conductor of The Boston Pops Orchestra, was the big name here.  Boston Pops attempted to make classical music a middle-class phenomenon, using Boston Symphony players to perform both classical pieces and pop hits of the day. The Boston Pops Orchestra was a best selling ensemble, and Symphonies in major cities formed similar ensembles. By the late 1960s, Arthur Fiedler was a major star in his own right, of the stature to headline at the 15,000 seat Oakland Coliseum Arena.        

The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble was headed by future film soundtrack composer Michael Kamen. Supposedly, three members of the Ensemble were Julliard students who figured out that there was more money in rock than in classical music. Their debut album (Atco Aug 68) featured string quartets and oboe duets mixed in with rock and roll. On stage, they would play Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale,” based on a Bach Cantata, with a cello and an oboe. By 1969, they had released a second album, Faithful Friends.

In the late 1960s, some more forward thinking people believed that it was only a matter of time that popular music merged with more "sensible" music. This turned out to be true, in a way, but it was more a matter of the economic dominance of rock subsuming other forms. The New York Rock And Roll Ensemble was a fine idea, in principle, but it turned out that they didn't really have any outstanding songs. In a way, they were the forerunner of The Electric Light Orchestra, a less pretentious band with better songwriters from Birmingham, England. In the late 1960s, however, it seemed like Rock was just about to become a normal part of the pop music spectrum.

Michael Kamen (1948-2003) had an extremely successful career in the music industry, particularly as an arranger for other artists like Pink Floyd and scoring films. Mark Snow (born Martin Fulterman), the co-founder of the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble, also had an extensive career recording soundtracks, most famously with the theme for the TV show "X-Files."

1 comment:

  1. The New York Rock and Roll Ensemble and The San Francisco Symphony played Stanford University on Saturday, August 9, 1969. I do not know the venue, probably Dinkelspiel or Memorial Auditorium, but perhaps Frost Amphitheatre.