Sioux City Symphony Orchestra
(with Windborne Music Band):
The Music of Queen
Sioux City, Iowa
Saturday, February 15, 2020
In the second sold-out concert of the season, the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra celebrated The Music of Queen with special guests The Windborne Music Band. They blew the roof off the place, which could have been dangerous to the packed crowd that extended all the way into the upper balcony. Thankfully, everybody made it out alright, and I suspect a good portion of those first-time symphony-goers will be returning in the future.
As front man Brody Dolyniuk told the audience, the night’s concert wasn’t going to be filled with the typical classical stuff. I’ve got nothing against (most of) the typical classical stuff, but let’s be real: it sure doesn’t sell the way a Queen concert does. The SCSO has been going after bigger crowds, and to fetch sell-out numbers like tonight’s they’ve gotten creative. In the two seasons I’ve been following the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, this is their most successful stretch yet.
I never know what to expect when the orchestra imports an act like Windborne. It wouldn’t have surprised me if Dolyniuk would have been accompanied front and center by his band. He wasn’t. With the exception of the exceptional bass (Daniel Clemens) and guitar (George Cintron) solos, when the musicians wandered up for their due attention, Windborne was essentially absorbed into the rest of the ensemble. Windborne and the orchestra worked together to produce the most seamless, cohesive, and coherent new program the symphony has put on.
A program like this can go sour in so many ways. But our symphony knows better. Sure the stage was staged differently. The production included more lights in more colors. But The Music of Queen concert never once devolved into mere spectacle; as advertised, it celebrated the music of Queen.
Brody Dolyniuk on vocals looked rock-star-enough in jeans and a denim jacket that was later stripped down to reveal a simple waistcoat. He didn’t try to mimic the Freddie Mercury look. He didn’t need to. His voice took him wherever he needed to go, and Windborne and the orchestra took us everywhere else.
Maestro Ryan Haskins could easily be seen—sans necktie and baton—moving his way through the program. Although we’re used to seeing and hearing Mr. Haskins at the podium, we didn’t hear much from him tonight. Dolyniuk sang the songs and told the story of the program, the story of the music. Haskins was usurped not only as storyteller but briefly as conductor, too. Kaylee Moe, an aspiring music educator, won herself the chance to conduct “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” which she did with energy and confidence.
The night largely focused on demonstrating Queen’s versatility. The set list included quieter songs I didn’t know (“Melancholy Blues” and “Who Wants to Live Forever”), the power rock songs we all know (“Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Are the Champions”) and everything in between (“You’re My Best Friend” and “Killer Queen”). That same versatility can be seen—and should be appreciated—in our Sioux City Symphony Orchestra. It can rock the Orpheum with Queen, keep time with Star Wars, slay classical monsters like Rite of Spring, and float along with the airy ineffability of something like Debussy’s “La Mer.”
If I’m being honest, I’m sometimes skeptical of pop programs like The Music of Queen, but tonight has left me far more open-minded. Sure, the Orpheum sold out, but there was no pandering to be seen: just high-quality, high-voltage music put on the way we in Siouxland have come to expect it from our Symphony Orchestra. The night was a lot of fun, it offered the familiar and the new (to me), and it hit real emotional chords. I can’t wait for the final two concerts of the 19/20 season and to see what’s in store for us—classical and otherwise—in 20/21.
Brendan Todt is a stay-at-home father who who shovels his neighbor’s snow in exchange for piano lessons. He is currently working his way through the Shakespeare canon and Mahler’s symphonies.