Quick Q&A with Conductor Brent Havens

He and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will rock Conner Prairie on June 27–28 with a tribute to The Eagles and Led Zeppelin.

What reactions do the musicians have to playing symphonic rock?
We get the entire range from “This is the coolest thing we’ve ever done” to “I can’t believe we have to play this crap” and “I didn’t study for 30 years to play rock music.”

How did you wind up in this business? It’s an unusual niche.
The whole idea was to get orchestras doing things they wouldn’t normally do. It took a while for this to get off the ground because managers were completely afraid of it. They would say, “Our audience won’t be interested in this.” Our point was, “We aren’t looking for your audience. We’re looking for classic-rock fans.”

What is something the audience might not know when they watch one of your shows?
The musicians have to wear earplugs because they’ve got a drummer sitting right in the middle of them, banging away.


This article appeared in the June 2014 issue.