When you think about it, it’s not a stretch that the co-creator of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band would go on to write classical music.
Paul McCartney has written oratorios, chamber music, sound collages and even an orchestral piece for a video game, all of which make the name of the upcoming concert by the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, The Many Moods of McCartney, perfectly apt. New York City producer and McCartney associate Dennis D’Amico is bringing the classical cabaret of sorts to Asheville, putting together a show of McCartney music that spotlights the composer’s abilities in both the pop and classical realms. McCartney is, D’Amico says, “one of the most ingenious writers alive today.”
He continues, “People don’t know his classical music at all. They know his pop music, but when they see the full dimension of who this man is, they’ll see his classical music is brilliant.” The Saturday, Sept. 27, concert will start out with well-known pop piece “Michelle,” conducted by musical director Byron Olson, who has worked with Peggy Lee and Johnny Mathis. Roger Kellaway, an Academy Award-nominated and Grammy-winning maestro, will then conduct the McCartney classical work “Nova,” first produced by D’Amico in Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Afterward, ASO musical director Daniel Meyer will lead the Asheville Symphony Orchestra in “Tuesday.” Much more will follow, including a solo piano performance of McCartney’s “A Leaf” by Yongmei Hu, a Chinese-born pianist from California whose work has been praised since she was 5 years old.
Of McCartney’s classical compositions, D’Amico says, “They don’t follow things that he did with The Beatles. These are really straight-ahead classical pieces that have got that McCartney [sense of] melody. They can stand on their own.”
McCartney gets invitations all the time, but he’s not likely to show up at the Asheville gala, D’Amico says. “His schedule is usually [planned] three years out. But it’s not really about him. It’s about his music and doing some positive goodness for the city of Asheville. And giving the symphony some spotlight.”
There will be guest artists, however, such as Broadway singer Lisa Sherman and Oscar-winning singer/composer Franke Previte, who wrote “Time of My Life,” the theme song from the movie Dirty Dancing. Also scheduled to appear are country singers Samantha Landrum and Emily West, as well as singer Bobby Caldwell, internationally known for his multiplatinum hit “What You Won’t Do for Love.”
Kellaway, who has worked with Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Yo-Yo Ma, Joni Mitchell and many others, will direct the world premiere of his piece, “The Many Moods of McCartney,” with jazz pianist Peter Beets.
“No matter what kind of music you favor, you’ll walk out of there very fulfilled,” D’Amico says. “The interpretation and delivery of the McCartney pieces will be incredibly entertaining.” The producer worked on this particular show for about a year. It started with a visit to a friend in Asheville, which led to a meeting with David Whitehill, the executive director of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra. That went well, and D’Amico went back to New York City, where he raised the sponsorship money to bring the concert to town.
The producer has the diverse background that enabled him to put together the concert in Asheville. Formerly a soap opera actor, he has cast Broadway shows and written, directed and produced TV commercials. He has also served as executive director of The Garland Appeal USA, McCartney’s sanctioned charity created to honor his late wife, Linda. Much like the work he did for that organization, D’Amico now produces charity events that raise money to combat breast cancer and children’s cancer and in support of animal rights.
D’Amico has selected four organizations to benefit from the Asheville concert — MANNA FoodBank, Asheville City Schools Foundation, Asheville Symphony Orchestra and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.
WHAT: Asheville Symphony Orchestra’s The Many Moods of McCartney, ashevillesymphony.org
WHERE: Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m., $38.15-$111.13 (includes fees)