Trey Anastasio, founding member of Phish, is performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra in a special one-night-only concert this summer.
The guitarist, vocalist, and composer will join the orchestra for a June 23 concert in Verizon Hall.
Why is an ensemble renowned for Tchaikovsky, Strauss, and Sibelius dipping its toe into the artistic waters of a jam band founded in 1983 with a very different groove?
“We’ve collaborated with artists from many different genres in recent years,” said orchestra artistic planning vice president Jeremy Rothman, citing the ensemble’s performances with Jill Scott, Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, and others. “It’s a way of meeting audiences in different ways.”
Anastasio has been performing with orchestras for years, including concerts with the New York Philharmonic and Seattle Symphony.
“It’s important to note that this wasn’t just a case of a rock star who wanted a string section to augment his slow songs or horns to punctuate his anthems,” wrote a Rolling Stone critic of a 2012 appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “The rearrangements actually transformed popular Phish standards like ‘First Tube’ and ‘Water in the Sky’ into entirely new entities, which leaned far more towards ‘new classical’ territory than the jazz and rock tendencies they usually exhibit.”
Anastasio’s Philadelphia program hasn’t been set, but it will feature orchestral arrangements of his songs as well as solo performances by him. Edwin Outwater conducts the program, which is expected to run about two hours.
Orchestra marketing vice president Charlie Wade said he expected the audience to be mostly Phish followers, as opposed to orchestra devotees. “His fans really dig this, seeing him in front of an orchestra.”
But what’s the sound classical ears can expect to hear rolling off the stage?
“It’s very melodic music,” said Rothman of Phish’s style. “It’s very improvisatory, progressive rock and draws inspiration from the Grateful Dead. They’ve got a jam vibe to them."
Tickets are $49-$125, and go on sale to Trey Anastasio/Phish fan club members and orchestra subscribers and donors Thursday, at 10 a.m.; and to the general public March 5 at 10 a.m. (215-893-1999, philorch.org).