Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal
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Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal is a "twenty-five-piece group of daring top Los Angeles studio musicians, that fuse classical, jazz, rock hip hop, world music and just about anything else," founded in 1997. "Elvis Schoenberg" is the persona of Los Angeles-based composer Ross Wright, who has been described as "either a musical madman or an eclectic genius." The group has marched in the Pasadena Doo-Dah Parade. In a 2003 review of a performance at the Ford Amphitheatre, the Los Angeles Times wrote that
- Not merely content to perform shotgun marriages between the likes of Wagner and Nancy Sinatra, Mussorgsky and Santana, etc., [Ross Wright] (er, [Elvis Schoenberg]) took on a more ambitious task Friday night at the Ford Amphitheatre -- a "book musical" of a sort called "Symphony of the Absurd!" It was, as Ed Sullivan would have said, "a really big shew" in which Wright incorporated many of his set pieces and some newer numbers into a hellzapoppin' revue, with an eclectic assortment of dancers, sexy girls, pulp novel narrations, lighting effects, dry ice.
- Air Surreal (1998)
- It's Alive (2003)
- Manic Voodoo Lady: Tribute To Jimi Hendrix (2009)
The Orchestre Surréal was created by Elvis Schoenberg AKA Ross Wright who Derived the name from Classical Music Icon Arnold Schoenberg and Pop Icon Elvis Aaron Presley. The name summarizes the spirit and content of the group much of the groups material are modern classical arrangements of Classic Rock Songs. As if Arnold Schoenberg were hired to write arrangements for Elvis Presley.
The Group’s size and configuration was designed to (as efficiently as possible) be able to perform classical orchestral music, Big Band Jazz music and Rock and Roll all simultaneously. So for this task the ensemble consists of three woodwinds players who all double: ww1. Piccolo, Flute, Soprano and Alto Saxophone, ww2. Flue and Tenor Sax, ww3 Clarinet, Bass clarinet, Baritone Saxophone, Two French Horns, Two Trumpets, Trombone, Tuba, Electric Guitar player who also plays sitar, Pipa, and almost anything with strings and frets. Keyboards, Electric Bass, 2 Percussionists playing mallets, timpani and a wide assortment of hand percussion. Violin 1, violin 2, viola, Cello, and Contra Bass, The size of the string section varies from 6 to 1 on a part.
Elvis Schoenberg, writes all the music for the group and is the group’s conductor. Fronting the group are a variety of singers and performance artists. Angela Carole Brown AKA The Fabulous Miss Thing, Dan O’Callaghan AKA Dangerous Dan, April Fissell AKA Diva Lynn, Susan Asbjornson AKA High-D, Jason Paige, Becky Baeling. The musicians are working studio musicians who perform regularly on Hollywood soundtracks of major feature films.
Schoenberg and company have made a name for themselves locally in Los Angeles over the last several seasons both as superb musicians and as performance artists who bring a robust theatricality and strong visual elements to the stage, while their music fuses traditional classical music with rock classics. Jim Morrison meets Stravinsky. Prokofiev mixes it up with John Fogerty. The Allman Brothers merge with Rossini. Mick Jagger encounters Ravel and Copeland. No genre is off-limits to Schoenberg and crew, equally adept at playing classical music, rock, jazz, hip-hop, samba, TV theme music and hard-driving rock-and-roll.
The Orchestre Surréal’s mission is to “boldly go where no orchestra has gone before.” The purpose is to blend musical styles and thereby blend cultures together equally. Demonstrating that if all musical styles can co-exist harmoniously then so can all people.
1998 and was immediately recognized by Music Connection Magazine as one of LA top unsigned bands two years in a row. The group earned: Best Rock Opera Of The Year, Best Orchestral Arranger, and Outstanding Performance Award by the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2003 and 2004. The group has written and produced three fully staged musicals. The first: “Dismembering the Classics” a Shakespearian twist that connected Classic rock tunes together. The next one was “Symphony Of the Absurd” which ran one night at the John Anson Ford Theater “ Concerto For the Committed”
Jon Pepper Music Connection Magazine Elvis Schoenbergs Orchestre Surréal plays an odd, yet entertaining musical blend of rock, classical, big band jazz, lounge, and just about every other type of music. Most of the lyrics are from rock songs like Purple Haze and Ramblin man, but the arrangements by Schoenberg are what set this band apart. Philosophical and humorous, this is music that while remaining entertaining, does not take itself too seriously.
- Big Entertainment
- Mills, Michele J., Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal offers wake-up call, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, November 21, 2002.
- Ginell, Richard S., 'Absurd' and more at Ford, Los Angeles Times, September 22, 2003
- Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal, CD Baby