By Connor Yearsley
The Waco Symphony Orchestra’s “A Salute to Sgt. Pepper!” concert on Thursday night is sure to be nostalgic for some and perhaps novel for others.
The concert will commemorate the 45th anniversary of The Beatles’ eighth studio album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which was released on June 1, 1967.
Rolling Stone magazine ranks the album No. 1 on its “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list, saying, “‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ is the most important rock and roll album ever made…by the greatest rock and roll group of all time.”
“You could certainly defend that premise,” said Stephen Heyde, conductor of the Waco Symphony Orchestra and the Baylor Symphony Orchestra.
“I at least agree that they’re the most important rock ‘n’ roll group of all time,” he said.
Heyde also said he thinks the album was very influential.
“It opened the door for a lot of new developments in popular music,” he said.
He also said it introduced a lot of different colors into the rock genre.
Heyde personally discovered The Beatles relatively recently.
“They’re amazing. I think lately I’ve really become a big Beatles fan, 50 years after everybody else,” he said.
He also said their longevity is a testament to their greatness.
“You can fool the public, but not for long,” Heyde said.
Heyde admires the sophistication and craftsmanship in The Beatles’ music, pointing to the piccolo trumpet part in “Penny Lane” as an example.
He said “Sgt. Pepper’s” raises the bar even more in terms of craftsmanship.
“I think it certainly was more sophisticated,” he said. “When you listen to some of their early stuff it’s pretty simplistic.”
Heyde thinks the concert will also appeal to classical music fans.
“Classical music was something that stood the test of time and this album has,” he said.
The concert is the Waco Symphony Orchestra’s only pops concert of the season.
Heyde said he enjoys the pops concerts.
“First of all, if we can provide a nice evening for people, I like that,” he said.
The concert gives the orchestra an opportunity to play a variety of pieces, and it attracts different audience members that will hopefully be motivated to come back for the classical concerts. Also, if playing The Beatles will allow them to play Beethoven and Brahms later, then Heyde is glad to play The Beatles.
Heyde said he often takes the suggestions of the Waco Symphony Orchestra’s Artistic Advisement Committee when deciding on the pops concerts.
“We’re trying to do things that are right for our mission, that we can do well and that we can market,” he said.
Heyde said he thinks the concert will be nostalgic for some people and might remind listeners of a time in their lives when they thought anything was possible.
“It’s a way to go back to your younger days,” he said.
He has some favorite songs from the album.
“I love ‘With a Little Help from my Friends,’” he said. “‘A Day in the Life’ I like. I actually like ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’ I think it’s a cool piece. ‘She’s Leaving Home’ is a very touching song from the album. ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ is kind of a cool piece.”
Heyde said he thinks the arrangements the orchestra will be playing are very true to the original songs and contain all the lines from the songs.
“I think they’re terrific. If they’re not the same as the original, they’re very close,” he said.
Heyde said the entire 13-song album won’t be performed, but that the concert’s focus will be on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Some other Beatles songs will be performed as well.
Classical Mystery Tour, an acclaimed Beatles tribute band, will join the Waco Symphony Orchestra for the concert.
Heyde is anticipating the concert.
“I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. It’s fun. I like the ambiance of the evening,” he said.
He said the concert is a time to let go of stresses and he hopes audience members will leave rejuvenated and rehabilitated.
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Waco Hall.
Dress is up to the audience members. The Speight Parking Facility is available for the concert.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.wacosymphony.com or at the door, depending on availability.