April 22, 2024



The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony may know a thing or two about putting on a show. However, this time they took a step back, allowing the Fab Four to step into the spotlight.

With the first of two shows on Feb. 10 – the second the following day – at Centre in the Square, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony performed a set of Beatles songs, combining gritty rock with age-old sounds.

Despite my loathing of the Beatles – the peace and love thing gets old – they pair well with a live orchestra. The orchestrated bits remain subtle enough as to not anger the rock aficionados, yet maintain a strong enough presence to be noticed and ensure a unique experience.

Musicians will often saturate their songs with unique sounds via an arsenal of unconventional instruments. The Beatles were no different. However, this raises an apparent concern – how to recreate these songs live.

Back in 2011, Canadian alt-rock artist Matthew Good told the Waterloo Region Record, “If you gave any musician the ability to just go and create without budget concerns, you would probably see a lot of them use a lot of instrumentation and doing a lot of different things than just picking up electric guitars.”

Unfortunately, many of today’s artists are not fortunate enough to have the disposable income needed to hire an orchestra.

However, every once in a while, under unique circumstances, we are given the opportunity to hear live recreations of our favourite tunes – orchestra and all.

Eleanor Rigby was a prime example of the power of an orchestra. The symphony, situated at the rear of the stage, remained unnoticed throughout the majority of the song, allowing the four Beatles impersonators to do their thing. However, during the climax – that moment of musical chaos – the beast awoke. Woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion emitted a deep roar.

Together, the band and orchestra performed an outstanding show, sharing the stage and contributing to a memorable night for those in attendance.

It later dawned on me that the strong sense of musicianship is what made this particular show so great. It wasn’t about modern versus traditional – the Beatles versus the K-W Symphony Orchestra. Neither act tried to overpower the other. The humble orchestra played only when necessary, complementing the original songs.

Some might argue that a pre-recorded track would do the song a similar justice. Audibly, this is probably true. However, most of us go to a music venue for the visual performance. The ability to see an orchestra makes the experience much more intimate.

It’s always interesting to see two very different musicians collaborate. These collaborations can go either way – chaotic or great. On this occasion, it was successful. As a result, elderly, young and middle-aged all attended the concert.

Part of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Pops Series, the symphony will be working to bring similar events to the area in the future. Whether you like the music or not, jump at the opportunity to see a similar show. Not only are they fairly inexpensive, with tickets starting at $15, but they will also give you a newfound respect for the orchestra and its potential.