The Savannah Philharmonic is trying something new for its Nov. 21 concert. In addition to its 30 or so musicians, it will be joined by a 20-person jazz band for an evening of Big Band Pops.
The collaboration will make the concert's featured songs, from Sinatra to Mercer to Buble, sound larger than life, said Philharmonic's conductor Peter Shannon.
"It's a new genre for the orchestra," Shannon said. "This is not a typical concert for us."
Jeremy Davis & the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra, a high-energy jazz band from Savannah, will lend their brass and bass instrumentation to the Philharmonic's strings.
Conducting a big band concert like this is "completely different" than conducting a modern symphony, Shannon said.
"You're less focused on things like sound quality because the kind of playing you need from string players in jazz is different. Sometimes you want something dirtier or rougher sounding," he said. "Sometimes you just need to whack it, you know, let it rip."
The Equinox band usually plays without a conductor, which Shannon must also keep in mind.
"I'm going to conduct this in a very loose way," he said. "There's a lot of good ears in that room so it should be an interesting dynamic for sure."
The songs have been specifically arranged for this concert, but the audience will still easily recognize rat-pack era hits like "Come Fly With Me," "Georgia," and "Luck Be a Lady."
"New York, New York," is sure to make a big impact, too, Shannon said. He added what while audiences might more easily recognize the Pops songs, the level of enthusiasm isn't so different from a traditional orchestra concert.
"I think the real job with music is to connect with people on an emotional level and different pieces of music do that in different ways," he said.
"I don't think it's too snobby to say that Mozart was a bigger genius than Frank Sinatra, but what's wrong with just having fun music too? The idea is to have a diverse program in our season with something for everybody."