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Cleveland, Can You Hear Me?: Roger Daltrey Joins Cleveland Orchestra For ‘Tommy’

Cleveland, Can You Hear Me?: Roger Daltrey Joins Cleveland Orchestra For ‘Tommy’

Gennifer Harding-Gosnell

Roger Daltrey of The Who will perform Tommy in its entirety backed by the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Sunday, July 8. Daltrey has also recently released a solo album, As Long As I Have You, tracks from which will most likely show up in the encore, along with other classic Who hits.

Tommy is actually the brainchild of Who guitarist Pete Townshend; several false starts at breaking out of the pop music format finally led him to write Tommy as a cohesive work but also for each song to be able to stand on its own. The album was a massive success and catapulted The Who to stardom. The 1975 film version of Tommy also became a classic, most notably for its scenes of the pinball competition featuring Elton John, and the Clapton-reworked version of “Eyesight To The Blind” that becomes the Church of Marilyn Monroe. Tommy has gone on to be considered one of the greatest classic rock albums of all time.

Montreal and Seattle were the first two cities to perform Tommy as a rock opera in the early ‘70s. In 1972, The Who performed Tommy with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir for a recording that also featured a stage show starring Rod Stewart, Merry Clayton, Steve Winwood and Ringo Starr.

This performance of Tommy is part of the Cleveland Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary celebration of playing summer shows at Blossom.

“At Blossom shows, we always try to do some amount of programming that’s outside the classical music sphere,” says Cleveland Orchestra Artistic Administrator, Ilya Gidalevich. Past shows have featured everything from cartoon television tunes to classic film scores. “We’ve never really ventured into something this high profile before, and we feel very strongly that our orchestra occupies a very specific place in the echelon of orchestras worldwide and it made sense for us to focus on popular programming that hold a similar place. I think Tommy and the Who in general signify the same thing for rock music that the Cleveland Orchestra signifies to classical music.”

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The orchestral arrangements for each instrument all been re-worked and updated by composer David Campbell (also known as the father of rock musician, Beck). “These are going to be brand new arrangements for this tour specifically,” explains Gidalevich. “We receive the arrangements and distribute them to the individual musicians.  We’ll come together for rehearsals ourselves and then with Roger Daltrey and his full band. And we’ll all be putting on a great show.”

For more information on the show or to purchase tickets, visit the Cleveland Orchestra’s website.

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