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Among the songs performed by the entire troupe (in the first part of the show) were -- One With Everything; It Don't Make Sense, Can't Make Peace; Can't Find My Way Home; Just Be; Everything All The Time; Crystal Ball; Miss America; and the Beatles song, I Am The Walrus. (That one I recognized!) Early on, two large screens unrolled, one on either side of the stage, which made viewing a lot easier, except when the wind rippled them, making the images somewhat Dali-esque. Unfortunately, they weren't used during the second half.

The Contemporary Youth Orchestra participated fully in these songs, which had been given full-out symphonic arrangements. Concertmaster Lavinia Pavlish astonished listeners in her several solos, most notably in It Don't Make Sense. Throughout the evening, the men of STYX continued to emphasize the remarkable abilities of Ms Grossman and her musicians. I was absolutely delighted to overhear a young man sitting behind me as he remarked to his friend, 'All bands should have an orchestra! This is great, man!' I couldn't agree more.

Another facet of this concert was the recording for a DVD and internet broadcast of the concert, as well as a pair of singles for possible release next Christmas. Several lighted Christmas trees were brought out, and the orchestra and chorus wore Santa Hats to accompany the band in All I Want and Ring The Bells. If released as planned, I'm sure they'll be welcome additions to the usual list of Christmas music available.

STYX: Lawrence Gowan, James Young, Tommy Shaw, Todd Sucherman, Ricky Phillips and founder Chuck Panozzo. Photo courtesy of Contemporary Youth Orchestra
STYX: Lawrence Gowan, James Young, Tommy Shaw, Todd Sucherman, Ricky Phillips and founder Chuck Panozzo. Photo courtesy of Contemporary Youth Orchestra

The trees were taken away, and the hats collected as they all got back to basics again. Featured STYX pieces were the STYX Medley with bits of eighteen of their songs; Boat On The River, Fooling Yourself and their really big hit, Come Sail Away. I'm sure there were more, but I have no idea what they were, and no matter. The audience did, and they were enthusiastic in their appreciation and enjoyment of this high-energy concert. The youthful members of the orchestra were applauded as vigorously as the big-time, big-name rock stars. The youngsters absolutely earned it, and will never forget it!

Some aspects of this venture were great fun, and made me wonder what would happen if -- for instance -- a particularly nice glissando from the harp which was highlighted on the big screens and drew a rousing cheer for the harpist from the audience, should have happened in a concert at Severance Hall? Would the audience break out in a spontaneous burst of applause mid-music to cheer the musician? Interesting concept, to be sure.

I have no idea who actually produced the orchestrations and arrangements for the rock group and the orchestra to play together, but they were marvelous, and the transitions back and forth were seamless. It was a truly awesome experience, and I'm delighted that I was able to be there. Liza Grossman will really have to go some to top this accomplishment. If it's possible, she'll do it. And more power to her!

Copyright © 3 June 2006 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland, USA


For more information about the Contemporary Youth Orchestra or Liza Grossman, visit or call +1 (216) 241 5555.

Blossom Music Center is the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra, and also has a full schedule of rock and pop concerts.

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