Picks: Rockin the Orchestra

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October 27, 2009
By: Cristof Traudes
Cristof Traudes
Ben Folds is coming to town.

And he’s performing with the Minnesota Orchestra.

My college self is going out of his mind.

Folds, perhaps best known for radio-friendly hits “Brick” and “Rockin’ the Suburbs” — little like most of his tunes — is a perennial emotionalist who writes beautiful songs, funny songs and sarcastic songs. He has a knack for poignant melodies, many of which are great sing-alongs.

You know, the kind of tunes boys in their late teens go crazy for.

He’s also known for actively trying to engage the audience. That means props, funny stories, an occasional dirty joke. The orchestra — or at least the aura of Orchestra Hall — will probably lend a touch of maturity to the night, but it’s hard to see Folds’ personality being completely clamped down. (This concert is scheduled for Halloween, after all.)

Some in the halls of the Downtown Journal think he’s too predictable. I’d fight that. After all, what other pop artist produced an album of college a cappella choirs? And who else revived — or at least tried to revive — William Shatner’s music career?

The orchestra will be conducted by Sarah Hicks, who was recently named Minnesota Orchestra’s principal conductor of pops. Can’t wait to see more concerts like this.

Ben Folds with the Minnesota Orchestra
8 p.m. Oct. 31
Orchestra Hall
1111 Nicollet Mall


Indie strings

If Ben Folds is just too poppy for your tastes, try string arrangements of indie star Sufjan Stevens’ “Enjoy Your Rabbit.” New York- and Berlin-based quartet Osso have turned Stevens’ computer keystrokes into classical arrangements, providing an eccentric take on an already eccentric slice of music.

The same night, the Southern Theater also will feature a screening of Stevens’ multimedia project, “The BQE,” which is a visual and musical homage to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The unconventional project was in development for almost two years; it just saw release on DVD on Oct. 20.

Osso and ‘The BQE’

7:30 p.m. Oct. 29
The Southern Theater
1420 Washington Ave. S.