I’ve tried. I’ve tried to like pure orchestral music, whether it’s Mozart, the Boston Philharmonic or the soundtrack to Amadeus, but sitting in a chair in what looks like a theater for two hours watching a musician sawing a cello without a movie to keep my brain busy is the fastest way to put me to sleep. I love Beethoven and Brahms and Bach as background music when I’m thinking, but they are not my main idea of entertainment.
I stumbled upon a truly fabulous CD that chases the ho-hum factor right out the window. A Classic Case: The London Symphony Orchestra Plays The Music Of Jethro Tull is exciting, dynamic, and I cannot get my car to crank it as loud as I’d like. They nail the flute solos on Bungle in the Jungle (well, they are an orchestra), but bang out the drums and electric guitars on Aqualung in a manner worthy of an Indiana Jones soundtrack. You completely forget you are listening to the stuffy London Philharmonic. Maybe it’s because Tull is one of those bands that can cross the barrier between rock and New Age, and transfers very nicely to the lute, (yes, medieval lute, not just flute) but the London Philharmonic truly knows how to rock!
If you find orchestral Tull to be tolerable, try these other albums which twist at the roots of “classical” or orchestral music:
David Garrett, Rock Symphonies: Where else can you get Kashmir, Kurt Cobain, or Metallica blasted from an electric violin? That’s right – violin, otherwise known as a fiddle. This is another incredible album that will have you headbanging around the room. It is as fabulous and frenzied as the classic originals, and the perfect introduction of “classical” concepts in musical themes for your kids. They will be amazed. Also check out his new cd, Music.
Rockabye Baby: a wonderful series of hard rock classics – from Pink Floyd to AC/DC and Nirvana, turned into lullabies on unusual instruments such as marimba and harp. If you want to start your kids on “classic” rock early, or simply prefer to relax to favorites in a calm manner, you’ll want to give these a try (the Pink Floyd is awesome).
Not in the library but fully worth pursuing is also Symphonic Pink Floyd – Us and Them, by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Yes, Pink Floyd is often heavy on orchestration to start with, but hearing it this way is truly superb. With a little practice – and a lot of familiar instrumental rock – you might just learn to like orchestral music!