Music News & Reviews

These classically trained string experts live for “Westworld,” “Mad Men,” other cover tunes

Orchid Quartet, top row, clockwise from left, Leah Metzler, Molly Rogers, Desiree Hazley and Kiara Ana Perico. Rogers, a Frankfort native, played with the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra before moving to Los Angeles.
Orchid Quartet, top row, clockwise from left, Leah Metzler, Molly Rogers, Desiree Hazley and Kiara Ana Perico. Rogers, a Frankfort native, played with the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra before moving to Los Angeles.

When Frankfort native Molly Rogers was recommended for a role in the Games of Thrones Live Concert Experience tour a few years ago (the referral coming from Grammy winning film score composer and one-time employer Hans Zimmer, no less), her career as a West Coast violinist soared to new heights. She didn’t envision exactly how high, though.

“In that show, they lifted me 35 feet up in the air,” she said. “That was a pretty amazing experience because I’m terrified of heights. I wasn’t sure about doing it at first but I kind of fell in love with it. They took me to Vegas to get fitted for a custom harness. Then I had to figure out where to put the cables and wires so when they lifted me I could still play the violin.”

Since relocating to Los Angeles almost nine years ago, Rogers has amassed an expansive resume of recording and touring credits that boasts such names such as Adele, Kendrick Lamar, Journey, Pharrell and most recently Shawn Mendes and Miley Cyrus (at this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony). But what brings her back home this weekend is the all-female Orchid Quartet, a team of classically trained string experts completed by violinist Desiree Hazley, violist Kiara Ana Perico and cellist Leah Metzler. The ensemble’s repertoire extends far beyond classical music into film themes, cover tunes and a few genre hopping surprises.

“A lot of what we do in Los Angeles is studio work when we’re not touring. We play for film and television and pop stuff, too. We play a cover of “Westworld,” we do “Mad Men,” things like that. We want people to know, yes, we are a classically trained string quartet, but we want our show to be fun and interactive and have people hear alternative versions of music they already recognize.”

Home schooled in her youth, Rogers’ earliest music education came from journeys to Lexington to play with the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra, trips to Cincinnati for violin lessons (she eventually studied at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music) and gigs at home with the folk ensemble Stirfry.

“I feel like I owe Stirfry part of my career,” Rogers said. “They taught me to improv, let go and have fun. A huge part of what I do here in LA is improv, especially on studio sessions, so I’m really grateful to Stirfry for that. The Orchid Quartet just spent a month in China touring in about 15 concert halls across the country, so I wondered if Frankfort would be interested in having me back. Thankfully, they were.”

The move West wasn’t part of any master career plan. Rogers’ studies initially led her to the Cleveland Institute of Music, but that proved an ill fit. Restless for a career that wasn’t limited exclusively to classical music, she headed to Los Angeles just shy of her 21st birthday.

“It was hard. I remember my first apartment. There was no air conditioning and no furniture. I couldn’t get internet for a few months. I had no friends. I spent my 21st birthday with one of those Netflix subscription services. Just paying my rent was difficult. I would go waitress on a day shift. On my 30 minute break, I would physically run to the bank and pay my rent and then run back to finish my shift. It was tough, but I look back on it fondly in a way. It was such a growing period.”

After a few years, things began to snowball in Rogers’ favor. As her resume grew, so did her reputation. An overseas tour with Japanese composer, producer and pianist Yoshiki led to an introduction to cellist Tina Guo. That, in turn led to auditioning for a tour with Zimmer.

“I spent a large part of 2017 on the Han Zimmer tour,” she said. “But I was also planning on getting married that August. When I got the tour, they asked if I could move my wedding date because it conflicted. And I did. Luckily, my husband is also a musician (a guitarist) and was very understanding.”

Rogers will head back on the road this fall with Game of Thrones Live (a touring orchestral production devoted to Ramin Djawadi’s music from the insanely popular HBO series) but said she will likely not have to be airborne again.

“The last time it was an arena tour. This time it’s an amphitheater tour. We’re playing the Hollywood Bowl, which is definitely a bucket list thing for me. My suspicion is they will not have the ability to hoist me up in amphitheaters. So it looks like I’m off the hook, no pun intended.”

Orchid Quartet

When: 7:30 p.m. May 17

Where: Grand Theatre, 308 St. Clair St., Frankfort.

Tickets: $20-$25; 502-352-7469

Online: grandtheatrefrankfort.org, orchidquartet.com, mollyrogersmusic.

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