The incendiary amplified chamber group touted as “the bridge between the contemporary classical ensemble and the mainstream popular audience,” New York-based Fireworks Ensemble performs Sunday at Temple Cultural Activities Center.
With a mission described as bringing “a fresh perspective on chamber music for a new generation of listeners,” the eight-piece band tours throughout the U.S. and has concertized at many of the nation’s premier stages, including Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and the Chautauqua Institute. The group is currently ensemble-in-residence at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium. But banish the thought of a stuffy, overly-formal concert. With a set list ranging from Frank Zappa, dance music from across the globe, what’s described as “classic cartoon music,” and the orchestral compositions of Igor Stravinsky, Fireworks’ ambient-techno vibe should present a fresh approach to chamber music.
One of New York’s first indie-classical bands, Fireworks was founded in 2000 by bassist/composer Brian Coughlin. His rock-inspired reworking of Stravinsky’s 20th century game-changing ballet score, “The Rite of Spring,” has been called “adventurous and ahead of the curve,” and “classically trained but musically fearless.”
The band features programs entitled “Dance Mix,” which somehow blends 700 years of dance music from around the world, “American Tapestry,” folk, rock, jazz and classical sounds born in the USA, and “None of the Above,” a homage to the knotty instrumental music composed by Zappa. Fireworks records for Entertainment One, which will release the ensemble’s project of Zappa’s music later this year.
Critical reaction to the ensemble has been favorable. Anne Midgette, writing in The New York Times, said, “Hell-for-leather arrangements ... show-stopping solos,” and The Washington Post’s Stephen Brookes wrote, “Adventurous and ahead of the curve ... chamber music just got a kick in the pants.”
Sunday’s matinee concert, “American Tapestry,” is presented by the Central Texas Orchestral Society, which is now in its 64th year. One of the organization’s goals is to provide an opportunity for patrons to closely interact with artists in pre- and post-concert events and Sunday’s ticketholders may visit with the band at 3 p.m. at CAC’s Strasburger Hall. The curtain rises at 4 p.m. The concert ends at 6:30.