Celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment during its 2019-2020 season, Wichita Symphony Orchestra is devoting one selection in each concert to a modern, female composer.
So when it came time to decide on a pops concert for the Oct. 5 slot, a show spotlighting women rockers seemed only logical, music director and conductor Daniel Hege said.
“It just fit in so well with everything else we were doing,” Hege said. “It’s a really entertaining program with really great entertainers.”
“Women Rock!” features the music of Carole King (“I Feel the Earth Move”), Irene Cara (“Flashdance”), Janis Joplin (“Piece of My Heart”), Aretha Franklin (“Freeway of Love,” “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”), Heart (“These Dreams”), Pat Benatar (“Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Love is a Battlefield”) and Tina Turner (“Proud Mary,” “Simply the Best”), among others.
The performers with the touring production are Shayna Steele, a former background singer for Bette Midler and a Broadway veteran of “Rent” and “Hairspray”; Cassidy Catanzaro, former lead singer of the band Antigone Rising and a writer whose songs have appeared on albums by Demi Lovato; and Brie Cassil, whose resume includes “Rent” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
Conductor William Waldrop, who travels with “Women Rock!” is guest conductor.
Hege said it’s more efficient to use the traveling conductor in this format, since he’s familiar with the headlining performers and can relay the information to the orchestra in a one-rehearsal preparation.
He said the orchestra is looking forward to the change of pace that the rock-themed pops concert provides.
“It’s really fun because they’re orchestrated in a very lively way,” Hege said. “There’s a good vibe and a really energetic pulse going on. You just know that the audience is being entertained.
“It’s good for an orchestra’s versatility, and it’s good to show the audience that an orchestra doesn’t play just Brahms and Mozart, and they can swing and play rock and popular music as well,” he added.
The musicians, Hege said, realize they’re giving something new and different.
“It’s all about the connection with the audience,” he said.
A local addition to the concert is Wichita musician Jenny Wood, returning to performing after a May car crash that critically injured her and killed her mother and niece.
Wood will perform her song “I Am Not Scared” in the symphony setting. The orchestra arrangements were written by Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn, director of the Wichita State school of music.
“That’s a wonderful local tie to connect in,” Hege said.
‘Women Rock!’ Wichita Symphony Pops Concert
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5
Where: Century II concert hall, 225 W. Douglas
Tickets: $40-$80, from wichitasymphony.org, by phone at 316-267-7658 or at the symphony box office at Century II. Discounts available for students, seniors and military.