Conductor Kim Roy, left, leads Friday night’s performance with great enthusiasm while the Seattle Rock Orchestra’s founder and artistic director, Scott Teske, plays electric bass.
JOEL MARTIN/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD
Vocalist Miranda Zickler is eerily reminiscent of Janis Joplin in the Seattle Rock Orchestra’s performance of “Oh Darling” Friday.
The Seattle Rock Orchestra, consisting of 17 instrumentalists and three vocalists, brought a different approach to the Beatles’ last two albums Friday.
Moses Lake resident Nathan Fisher, center, plays trumpet with the Seattle Rock Orchestra. Fisher was a last-minute replacement for the orchestra’s usual trumpeter, he said.
Staff Writer | May 3, 2023 1:30 AM
MOSES LAKE — The Fab Four never sounded like this.
The Seattle Rock Orchestra, consisting of 17 instrumentalists, three vocalists and one highly-animated conductor, took the stage at the Wallenstien Theater Friday night, playing selections from the Beatles’ last two albums, “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be.” It was the last show of the Columbia Basin Allied Arts 2022-23 season.
The Lads from Liverpool may seem like unusual material for an orchestra, but SRO founder and electric bass player Scott Teske thought it was a perfect fit. The orchestra has a number of Beatles shows in its repertoire, usually covering two albums at a time, he said.
“We love letting violins and violas and oboes behave as if they were an electric guitar,” Teske said. “We love popular music, you know, we're 20th-century kids here, but we love the orchestra too. We love to celebrate these old instruments and kind of give them new life.”
Give them new life they did. The concert was conducted by Kim Roy, who could barely contain herself on the podium, bouncing with the music as if she had springs in her shoes. The vocals were performed by Kate Dinsmore, Annie Jantzer and Miranda Zickler, dressed in 1960s garb and filling the familiar-to-many lyrics with a new intensity. The venue was mostly filled to capacity, with audience members of all ages.
“I was told earlier that this is the best-selling show in 10 years,” Teske said at one point between songs. “We tried to play here in, I think it was 2020, but we had some obstacles. So thank you for finally making that dream real.”
“That’s a great idea,” shouted a small child in the audience.
The singers ran the gamut of vocal styles. Zickler appeared to be channeling the spirit of Janis Joplin on “Oh Darling” and filled the room with smooth serenity on “Let it Be.” Jantzer moved, apparently without effort, from blue intensity on “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” to baby-voiced sweetness on “Across the Universe” to smoky sultriness on “Something.” Dinsmore’s range was equally broad, including a fast-paced “Get Back” and an Edith Piaf-esque “I Me Mine.”
The only song not sung by at least one of the three was “For You Blue,” which Teske said was the only song they would allow him to do.
“I’m the Ringo in this vocal ensemble,” he joked.
The instrumentals supported the singing with some unusual stylings of its own. The bass and brass sections pounded out “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” like an instrumental sledgehammer, and Aleida Gehrels infused “Let it Be” with a bluesy viola riff, a phrase which possibly has never appeared in print before. Gehrels also had a sweeping solo in “Mean Mr. Mustard,” along with a helping and a half of cowbell. Bass and drum solos also punctuated the performance.
The show concluded with the entire Abbey Road Medley. In response to a standing ovation, the players returned for an encore performance of “The Long and Winding Road” and “Her Majesty.”
The orchestra included at least two performers with Moses Lake ties. Nathan Fisher, a 2017 MLHS graduate, was brought in to play trumpet at the last minute. The regular trumpet player was adjudicating a competition, Fisher said, so the orchestra approached a local music teacher. She was also unavailable but recommended Fisher.
“Abbey Road is one of my favorite albums ever,” Fisher said. “An incredible album in so many ways.
My family is from England, so we have a connection to that culture.”
Fisher’s grandmother came from Liverpool, he added.
Zickler herself grew up on the west side, she said, but her parents met, fell in love and graduated at Moses Lake High School. She has extended family in Moses Lake, she said, some of whom were in attendance. Zickler started her career with the Seattle Rock Orchestra in 2014, with a performance of the “Abbey Road-Let It Be” show.
“We have a lot of different players that do different shows, but they’re all in this community,” Zickler said. “The Seattle Rock Orchestra community has totally changed my life since the first show that we played. All of my best friends came in one way or another out of this group of people.”
“I think the Beatles are timeless, and you cannot really beat them in their appeal across generations,” Teske said. “You know, we grew up listening to the Beatles, because our parents listened to them. So that has a really strong association with happy childhood memories, in the car with the top down and the Beatles on the radio. It’s special for us in that way that we have a connection with her parents.”
Joel Martin can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Columbia Basin Allied Arts
6989 College Parkway
Moses Lake, WA 98837-3299
7662 Chanute St NE
Moses Lake, WA 98837-3299