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Knight to remember: Pacific Symphony Pops welcomes legendary "Empress of Soul" Gladys Knight and her hall-of-fame artistry for a little Motown, rhythm and blues and more
March 15, 2013
Plus, guest conductor Eímear Noone returns to lead the orchestra in reprise of music recorded for the best-selling video-game, Blizzard’s “Diablo III”
Eight-time Grammy winner and film/television sensation Gladys Knight and her famous soulful voice perform for the first time with Pacific Symphony during the orchestra’s next Pops concert. Having recorded more than 38 albums and enjoyed No. 1 hits on the pop, R&B and adult contemporary charts, Knight enchants audiences with four generations of music—from her Motown days with Gladys Knight & The Pips to her four solo records. In addition to being recognized in multiple halls of fame, Knight has been a guest judge and performer on “American Idol” and a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars”; she has appeared in the Tyler Perry film, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” and opened the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City with “This is Our Time.” For this concert, she’ll be singing favorites such as “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Every Beat of My Heart,” her James Bond single “License to Kill” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” all backed by the lush sounds of the full symphony orchestra.
Knight appears with the Symphony on April 18-20, at 8 p.m., in the Ren&eactue;e and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $25-160; for more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org. Led by Maestra Eímear Noone—an ingenious conductor and composer with an immense passion for conducting music from all genres, including video game scores—the concert’s first half features Russell Brower’s “Leah” from Blizzard Entertainment’s “Diablo III,” which she originally recorded with Pacific Symphony for the game’s highly successful release in 2012; also, Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and “Hoe Down” from “Rodeo”; Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide”; and Debussy’s haunting “Claire de Lune.” Then, the orchestra rocks out to an arrangement of AC/DC’s music by Emmy-nominated composer Craig Stuart Garfinkle, called “Back in Symphonic Black.”
“Ms. Knight fully embodies her title of ‘The Empress of Soul,’ and it is a great honor to be invited to share a stage with her,” says Noone, who leads the orchestra during Knight’s performance. “Hers is a voice of the people. It belongs to us all. It puts sound to our deepest longings and heartaches, joys and great loves. She gives everything to her people on stage, a completely selfless and vulnerable passion in her performance and then, of course, there’s the soul... Only a true, fearless artist can perform with such soul.”
The star vocalist of the evening, Knight, began singing gospel music in the Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Georgia at age 4. Three years later, she won the grand prize on the television show, “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” and the following year, she joined what would eventually become Gladys Knight & The Pips. In 1995, Knight earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1996, Gladys Knight & The Pips were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a year later, they were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Knight received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual BET Awards in 2004. Last year, she ended a critically acclaimed four-year run performing nightly at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which was hailed “the number-one show on the Strip” by the Las Vegas Review Journal.
“The first half really should be called, ‘these are a few of my favorite things,’” says Noone, “and it is with great excitement that I share these universally beloved short musical gems with the Pacific Symphony audience. I feel the same passion as if I were sharing them with my own family for the first time! To me, it’s vital to experience a wide range of musical styles and each one requires something different of the conductor. My background includes a thorough classical education, but first and foremost, I am a huge multi-genre music fan. “The battle between the forces of heaven and hell is the backdrop for ‘Diablo III’ and the orchestra treated us to a richness of sonority that worked perfectly for the project,” says Noone of the video-game collaboration. “Pacific Symphony gave us such a great performance that we had to match them with a couple of the best groups of vocal artists in Christendom! We flew all the way to Dublin to record the ‘hell choir’ or the seductively ethereal choral group Anúna and then to London for the ‘heaven choir’ or Knights Templar-esque London Voices at Abbey Road.
“Of course I’m absolutely delighted to come back and work with such an incredible group of artists and exemplary human beings,” she continues. “One of the unexpected results of our collaboration has been numerous awards and nominations, so thank you, Pacific Symphony!”
Currently, Noone is touring as the conductor for The Zelda Symphony, a full four-movement symphony created from the iconic video game “Zelda.” Noone also recorded the “Zelda Symphony 25th Anniversary CD,” which was released by Nintendo as part of its newest “Zelda” game, “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.” In 2011, she conducted and co-produced “This Is Ireland” at Royce Hall in Los Angeles for St. Patrick’s Day. Featuring orchestra, gospel choir, actors and soloists, the show starred Irish celebrites Pierce Brosnan and Roma Downey.
The Thursday, April 18, concert is sponsored by U.S. Bank, and the Friday, April 19, concert is sponsored by Farmers & Merchants Bank. Pacific Symphony’s Pops series receives additional support from The Westin South Coast Plaza, American Airlines, K-Earth 101 and PBS SoCal.
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