Classical music meets the Wild West Thursday, Aug. 18, as the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra performs its sixth annual Symphony Rocks concert, partnering with Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome and featuring Jessie Veeder and Blind Joe.
After 52 years of putting on Symphony Ball fundraiser, the FM Symphony Orchestra (FMSO) decided it was time for a change.
“Interest was waning, and we wanted to put on an event that aligned more with our mission of engaging of the whole community,” says Linda Boyd, executive director of FMSO.
FMSO partnered with Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome more than seven years ago to create an event that broke symphony stereotypes and widened its audience by combining various types of music. The event was such a hit that Symphony Rocks has been going on since.
This year’s theme, Wild Wild West, will feature songs from artists like The Eagles and Charlie Daniels, as well as orchestral songs from “How the West the Was Won,” “Wild Wild West” and “Buckaroo Holiday/Hoedown.”
The music selections were arranged by Russ Peterson, the symphony’s principal bassoon player and leader of Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome. Peterson has a background in all genres of music and worked with FMSO to create an outlet for them to share the stage.
Previous themes featured famous Latin music and songs of the ’70s. This year, they are tackling country music.
“We aren’t a country band, but we can fake it really well,” Peterson says.
Boyd has seen the event grow from its first show at The Hub to filling the space at Bluestem, last year selling around 1,800 tickets.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing the audience grow every year,” Boyd says. “I also like seeing our own musicians have fun doing different styles of music.”
This year will feature Sonja Harasim, FMSO member and professor of strings at Concordia College. She will play the violin solo on the “Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
“Symphony Rocks is the combination of playing an awesome variety of music with friends and colleagues, the beautiful surroundings at Bluestem and the incredible energy of the audience,” Harasim says.
“Jessie is a real-deal country singer,” Peterson says. “We will do our best to keep up.”
This year will also include a pre-concert Cowboy Barbecue Party. Each ticket includes early bird parking, dinner buffet, a drink ticket, games and prizes.
This is FMSO’s only fundraising event, and all proceeds support their concerts and programs for the year.
“This is the premier event in town featuring some of the best musicians in town,” Peterson says. “Classical, jazz and rock all coming together. Fargo gets to show off its best players with this.”
If you go
What: Symphony Rocks
When: Thursday, Aug. 18
Where: Bluestem Center for the Arts, 801 50th Ave. S, Moorhead
Info: Tickets are available online and range from $10 to $55. The pre-concert Cowboy Barbecue Party costs $25. fmsymphony.org/symphony-rocks-bluestem
This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, August 15, 2016, issue of the paper.