Trey Anastasio with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC
Trey Anastasio with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC
Before you dismiss Phish as a mere “jam band,” consider that over its 30-year career, Trey Anastasio and his fellow bandmembers have mixed classical techniques into their genre-blending grooves and improvisations to produce complex musical fugues. Over the past few years, Anastasio has teamed up with celebrated classical arranger Don Hart to transform those songs for the full might of the symphony, creating lush, saturated works that call to mind the cinematic works of John Williams—or an LSD-laced Fantasia (not that Fantasia needs a psychedelic boost). Amid universally soaring reviews, Rolling Stone called the rare symphony performances “genuine treats not to be missed” and the New York Times lauded it as “that rarest of rarities, a classical-rock hybrid that might please partisans from both constituencies.”

We were already keen that Portland will be the site of one such rare symphony performance in symphony, but the Oregon Symphony just released news that will make our City of Roses a City of Phish Heads instead.

Trey Anastasio with the Oregon Symphony
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Sept 9
Anastasio will debut a new work for guitar and orchestra in Portland, before taking it to Seattle’s Benroya Hall and then LA's Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic. The work’s name, Petrichor, is the word for that pungent smell that arises from the soil after the season’s first rain—a smell Portlanders know well. According to the press release, “Petrichor celebrates the process of rebirth and transformation that a storm sets in motion.”

“I love the concept that beautiful gifts come often wrapped in not-so-beautiful packages,” Anastasio says in the release. “The idea of a storm coming through—it’s a little scary and it’s a little dark, but after it’s over it leaves this beautiful scent of renewal. Sometimes a big storm is exactly what you need.”

Anastasio has been working on the piece for two years, since rehearsals for the Broadway musical Hands on a Hardbody, for which he co-wrote the music. The work, along with classic Phish songs and other works by Anastasio, will be conducted by L.A. Philharmonic’s Scott Dunn.

“It’s always exciting to perform with an orchestra,” says Anastasio. “I try to bring pieces that are going to be challenging and fun to play—pieces that spotlight the level of musical elegance that’s capable with an orchestra, that’s only capable with an orchestra.”

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