Annual Symphony Rocks Concert Pays Tribute to Prince and Other Late Legends

When music icons die, communities all over the world gather and pay tribute to the artists that touched their lives through the power of song.

This was especially the case when numerous rock legends like Prince, David Bowie and George Michael passed away in 2016.

At the 7th Annual Symphony Rocks Concert Aug. 17 at Bluestem, the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra and Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome perform a tribute of their own with a “Legends of Rock” theme that invites concert attendees of all ages to party like rock stars.

The concert features original arrangements that weave together rock classics like “Purple Rain” and “Heartache Tonight,” plus orchestral pieces that preview the symphony’s upcoming season.

Guest performer Matt Velline also makes an appearance to commemorate his late uncle and beloved rock and roll singer from Fargo, Bobby Vee.

“(This theme) resonates with so many people, and it’s an experience of audience members and performers coming together over their love of these artists,” says Linda Boyd, the executive director of the F-M Symphony.

Russ Peterson, the leader of local 12-piece horn band Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome and principal bassoonist in the F-M Symphony, has arranged music for Symphony Rocks since it debuted at Bluestem in 2011.

“Arranging this music is a cool creative outlet for me,” says Peterson, who plays saxophone in the band. “It’s fun to take a tune by a popular rock band — like the Eagles for instance — and write it out for an orchestra.”

Russ Peterson, leader of Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome and bassoonist in the F-M Symphony, has arranged music for Symphony Rocks since its inception. Photo courtesy of the F-M Symphony.

Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome band members and Symphony Rocks conductor Jane Linde Capistran work together to keep everyone on the same page.

“It’s a lot like directing traffic,” Capistran laughs.

Capistran, like Peterson, has been part of Symphony Rocks since its inception. The F-M Symphony started the event as a way to reach larger audiences in the community and showcase its ability to play all genres of music. It is now the symphony’s largest fundraiser of the year.

“The combination of the symphony playing with this rock band breaks down a lot of barriers,” Capistran says. “This is a great community event that reaches all ages and types of listeners.”

In addition to the concert, attendees 21 and older have the option to buy a separate ticket to the “Party Like a Rockstar” pre-party in Bluestem’s Marcil Commons to “make a fun evening out of the event,” Boyd says.

The pre-party begins at 5:30 p.m. that includes early-bird parking, food, drink and games.

More information on Symphony Rocks and the F-M Symphony Orchestra is available at fmsymphony.org.

If You Go

What: 7th Annual Symphony Rocks Concert

When: Pre-party at 5:30 p.m. (separate ticket); Concert at 8 p.m. on Aug. 17

Where: Bluestem Center for the Arts

Tickets: $30 pre-party (21+), $20-60 concert; tickets.fmsymphony.org

This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, August 14, 2017.

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