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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Youth Orchestras of San Antonio tackles the Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' album

Page Graham

Youth Orchestras of San Antonio is bringing back their Classic Albums Live series. In that series, the Youth Orchestra plays an entire album live, with the help of additional rock musicians fronting them onstage.

YOSA Music Director Troy Peters revealed this year’s choice: a Beatles classic.

“Sgt. Pepper’s [Lonely Hearts Club Band], one of the best-selling albums of all time. It was the first rock album to get the Grammy for Album of the Year,” Peters said.

Sgt. Pepper’s is an album often rated in surveys as the greatest rock album of all time.

“It’s this legendary thing in rock-n-roll, but it’s also got all these amazing orchestration and arranging and studio trickery kind of elements to it, that are fun to explore with the orchestra,” he said.

Peters noted the variety of songs on Sgt. Pepper's is both challenging and delightful.

“You’ve got songs like She’s Leaving Home that’s just strings and harp in the original version, and so we can reproduce that live,” he said.

Paul McCartney - She's Leaving Home (Live)

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Also, the Sgt. Pepper’s album has music that simply didn’t sound like anyone else. One song’s lyrics by John Lennon borrows heavily from a circus poster he bought from the 1800s.

“If you think of Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite that has all these calliopes and carnival sounds and things like that, having a full orchestra going full tilt behind the rock band, helps create that crazy energy, which I think is going to be a lot of fun,” he said.

As always on these concerts, a big focus is on the Youth Orchestra itself, but in this case the rock band fronting them is quite accomplished themselves.

Jack Morgan

“We love shining a light on San Antonio musicians like Joe Reyes and Diego and Emilio Navaira and Chris Madden on this record, we’ve got this kind of rock and pop supergroup, from different styles and different background,” he said.

Emilio and Diego’s band The Last Bandoleros toured the world opening for Sting.

“So it’s going to be a great education for the young musicians of YOSA to work with rock musicians who have such chops and versatility,” Peters said. “It’s going to be a really, really beautiful night.”

Tickets are available through the Tobin Center for next Monday night’s performance.

Libby Day
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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii