Historically, classical music and rock ’n’ roll have seldom blended well.
So Robert McDuffie understands that some people may be a little skeptical about “Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra,” a new piece composed by Mike Mills of REM.
But McDuffie, the world-renowned violinist who performs the piece, said it will appeal to classical music lovers and rockers.
“First, it’s for the rock ’n’ roll fans, who won’t be disappointed,” McDuffie said. “It’s definitely a rockin’ piece. But it’s also for the curious classical music lovers who don’t mind shouting out in the middle if they really like it.”
Local audiences will be among the first to hear the piece live. It had three live performances, one a chamber version performed in Rome, since last summer. Then a national tour began in Miami this week and the second stop on that tour will be at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Friday. A recording of the piece was released on Oct. 14. McDuffie, Mills and the 15-piece Fifth House Ensemble will perform THE work.
McDuffie is a long-time friend of Mills, and was the one who suggested that Mills write a concerto. He’s thrilled with the result.
“It’s a joyful piece,” he said. “It rocks and it makes you want to dance. And some parts of it are achingly beautiful.”
So far, McDuffie said, audiences have been sharing his enthusiasm for his friend’s work.
It has been performed in an intimate theater in Rome to only 300 people, to a raucous crowd in Aspen and to thousands of people with the Toronto Symphony orchestra. It went over phenomenally well in each setting, he said.