Over the years, the music of several classic rock artists has been presented with the backing of a symphony orchestra to treat the listener to both a familiar and unique sonic experience.
For touring singer and veteran musician Brody Dolyniuk, who will be collaborating with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra this weekend for its annual Picnic at the Pops, one band iconic rock band reigns over them all for symphonic collaboration. And it has an appropriately royal name.
“I think the Queen catalog is the perfect choice for a rock band to present in a symphonic fashion,” Dolyniuk said. “I think it’s an easy fit and a win-win for both audiences.”
For the event’s 40th anniversary, the Picnic at the Pops will present “The Music of Queen!” with the help of Dolyniuk and other special guests on Saturday at the Keene Meadow at Keeneland.
Dolyniuk always felt like he was a generation behind his peers when it came to his taste in music. When he was attending high school in the mid-80s, he was listening to ‘70s rock like Boston, Styx and Led Zeppelin. The self-taught pianist also discovered he had both a high-end vocal range and a knack for almost effortlessly imitating the vocal delivery of other popular rock singers.
After graduating from high school in California, Dolyniuk moved to Las Vegas and eventually became immersed in Sin City’s music scene, first playing piano bars before forming his own tribute band Yellow Brick Road, an outfit that specialized in the music of Elton John. The band also delved into the music of other icons during its gruelling gigs at casinos and built a solid local following.
“People came out to hear Led Zeppelin in a casino because nobody was playing it at the time,” Dolyniuk said.
After playing with Yellow Brick Road for 14 years, Dolyniuk eventually found his way to Windborne Music in 2009 as a vocalist for the touring symphonic show “The Music of Queen!” and he said the feeling of performing in front of larger crowds and with a much larger group of musicians was quite a change from his days performing in casinos and piano bars.
“I do remember having to catch my breath before I went out on stage. It took me back to that (high school) talent show in 1985, that intense, nervous energy,” he said. “It’s really not my world at all. It is a completely foreign world to me ... or was.”
He said replicating the high-flying, powerful vocal fireworks of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury comes withchallenges and rewards.
“It’s a personal challenge to sort of have to deliver and meet the expectation that people are coming to see and hear,” he said. “The end result is to try to win over the audience. Win them over vocally, win them over musically.”
The Picnic at the Pops performance of “The Music of Queen!” will feature Dolyniuk and a five-piece rock band joined by the Lexington Philharmonic, led by guest conductor Brent Havens.
The musicians will take the audience through a tour of Queen’s biggest hits and a few deeper cuts that the group’s die-hard fans will certainly appreciate. At times Dolyniuk and his band will lead the charge; at others, the orchestra take over to give Queen’s compositions an entirely new feel.
“You’re talking about this whole new sonic palette to call upon that wasn’t in the original recording,” Dolyniuk said. “It’s kind of tough to explain with words. You just kind of have to come experience it and hear it live.”
If you go: Picnic at the Pops presents “The Music of Queen!” featuring Brody Dolyniuk and the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra
When: Saturday, Aug. 17. Gates open at 5 p.m.; performance starts at dusk (slightly before 9 p.m.)
Tickets: SOLD OUT
Where: Keene Meadow at Keeneland , 4201 Versailles Road