Sex and the Symphony: Ben Folds Explains Why Orchestral Music is the Best Aphrodisiac

Categories: Interviews

"I was a little resistant at first, because I didn't like how rock bands sounded with orchestras," Folds admits. "But the orchestra is the rock band, and my songs are scored so they work with them. That's why I believe it works so well. The orchestra shouldn't be relegated to playing whole notes while rock stars make noise and look good."
And though the symphony members love performing their traditional pieces, they get an extra buzz when playing some of the more pop-oriented tunes.

"One of the things that's really true about an orchestra is that these musicians -- though they're highly trained, classical musicians -- grew up listening to and playing all kinds of music," Bronstein says.

Phil Ross, who plays the oboe with the St. Louis Symphony, was onstage with Folds during his 2011 sold-out performance at Powell Hall. As a long-time fan of Folds' music, Ross says that Folds brings a different kind of excitement to the venue.

"You can't go wrong when you bring in a big star like Ben Folds," he says. "It's a different crowd than what would come to the classical stuff. What we want to do is excite them into saying, 'Hey, this is really pretty cool.'"

For the St. Louis shows, Folds will bring with him a new piano concerto that he debuted with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra in March. But while the piece has its roots in classical music, Folds surely will add some rock & roll to the performance, reminding us that orchestras have more vibrancy than the public sometimes gives them credit for.

"They used to play the pop songs of the day, and people were talking, people were drinking. It was not always like what we've turned it into," Folds says. "Let's get less formal, be more of a part of life in this century and stay stubborn about the quality of music.

"What works at the end of the day is great music and giving people something they can't see anywhere else," Folds insists. "And, God, you can see so many things with a symphony orchestra that you can't see anywhere else. It's a band capable of anything."


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