Classic rock meets classical music at Mechanics Hall

It’s been 45 years since Worcester-based band Orpheus peaked on the “Hot 100” chart in 1969 with its hit, “Can’t Find the Time,” but the iconic band has found the time to reunite for an exclusive one-night-only event at Mechanics Hall that will feature the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra Ensemble. So if you’re nostalgic for some classic rock with a twist, you’re in for a treat when Orpheus returns to its Worcester roots on May 9 for a special homecoming performance.

“I am a Worcester boy, for sure. We are very excited about the whole Mechanics Hall concept. But the first thing I will do is get a Coney Island hot dog with my Worcester friends,” Orpheus frontman, Bruce Arnold, said. “My childhood in Worcester was about as ideal as it could be. My brother and I often say that we have no one to blame but ourselves for whatever condition we are in. My mother would say we New Englanders are from ‘good stock.’ Having traveled around the world, I can testify that it is true.”

ENTOrpheusAArnold is beyond thrilled to play the Orpheus catalogue and be as true to the original recordings as possible. In fact, the band that did most of the original studio work will be back together to play the Worcester Homecoming show, and Arnold couldn’t be happier. “These are my favorite musicians in all the world, and we have a very strong bond. We feel like we are ready for anything!”

So how does classic rock meld with a classical symphony?

“The biggest thrill of my career was watching the moonlighting New York Philharmonic play my music in the studio. I had heard that (Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra director) Paul Levenson was open to new challenges and ideas, and indeed, he fit right in like a lost jigsaw puzzle piece. One of the delightful aspects of our coalition is that these folks are consummate professionals.”

frontPhotoNewAccording to Levenson, executive director of the Worcester-based Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, some of the finest symphony musicians in the area are involved with this concert. “Their role is to add richness and depth to the Orpheus sound,” Levenson explained. “The Massachusetts Symphony has a lot of experience doing performances of this kind, having played for a number of touring shows at venues such as The Hanover Theatre, DCU Center and the Tsongas Arena. The concept of adding a symphonic background to classic rock goes back at least to The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s album, where symphonic musicians were used to great effect in a number of tracks on that recording.”

As for what fans and newbies can expect from the show, Levenson said, “The audience can expect a first-class listening experience, not only because Orpheus has Worcester roots but because the event will take place in the marvelous atmosphere of Mechanics Hall, a venue where the acoustics of a symphony and the wonderful sounds of Orpheus will blend perfectly.”

Arnold added that the band will put on what may very well be “the definitive Orpheus performance for years to come.” He said the band will also be available to meet as many fans as possible.

“I love the stories of taking ‘Can’t Find the Time’ to war in Vietnam. Apparently our songs brought many soldiers back home for three minutes. We want to know your Orpheus story,” Arnold said. “I can’t wait for the show!”

Tickets for Orpheus: The Homecoming, featuring the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra Ensemble, are available at simplyfargone.com.

By Mike Wood