East Village Opera Company to feature 'old music on new instruments'
September 26, 2008 · 1:44 PM
Music fans can expect a new sound and a new experience at the East Village Opera Company concert 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Kentwood High School’s Performing Arts Center.
The group, which will make its first appearance in the Seattle area, features two vocalists, a five-piece band and a string quartet in a mix of opera and rock.
“We play old music on new instruments. It’s as simple as that,” said Peter Kiesewalter, co-creator of the band, in a phone interview Tuesday before a show in Logan, Utah.
The company, from the East Village in New York, will perform here as part of the Kent Spotlight Series.
“It’s a challenge to market such a unique show,” said Ronda Billerbeck, the city of Kent’s cultural programs manager. “Is it for an opera crowd or a rock crowd? It’s a tricky one.”
Kiesewalter, an arranger and multi-instrumentalist, plays the keyboards. The group mixes guitars, drums and violins with vocalists AnnMarie Milazzo and Tyley Ross. Ross is the co-creator of the band.
“People can expect to see a rock band on stage with a small string ensemble and two great singers,” Kiesewalter said.
If fans like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, then they probably will like the East Village Opera Company, Billerbeck noted.
Kiesewalter stayed away from comparing his band to other musical groups. But he said fans of rock and opera have attended concerts. And the group draws fans of all ages.
“It’s unlike any other demographic I’v seen,” Kiesewalter said. “It’s very wide. I can’t pinpoint an age group. But those familiar with opera come for a fresh take.”
East Village Opera performs arrangements of opera hits such as “La Donna e Mobile” from Rigoletto, “Habanera” from Carmen and “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot. The vocalists sing the pieces in the original languages.
The group released its first album, “La Donna,” in 2004, followed by a self-titled album in 2005 and a third album, “Olde School,” in 2008.
Fans can expect arias by Verdi, Bach, Mozart and Wagner mixed with rock and roll and rhythm and blues.
“There’s plenty of references to rock genres from the last 50 years,” Kiesewalter said. So fans of The Who, Led Zeppelin and Elton John will be able to pick up musical references, he said.
The company started a five-week tour a week ago. Other stops in Washington include Bremerton, Longview, Edmonds and Yakima. The group also has toured Europe, South America, Canada and Hong Kong over the last couple of years.
“We’re still at a level where we need to win the audience over,” Kiesewalter said.
“We’re playing for people who have never seen us. We try to win them over in the first 20 minutes of the concert. We try to earn their love.”
The members of the band usually greet fans after the show, partly in an effort to get feedback.
“It’s been extremely favorable,” Kiesewalter said. “We try to get out in the lobby after the show and people have been ecstatic about the experience.”
For more information or to listen to a couple of the band’s songs, go to www.eastvillageoperacompany.com.