Skynyrd with violins?
July 25, 2008 10:01 PM   Subscribe

According to wikipedia, "The conductor of the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra, David Stahl, irritated by outbursts of "Free Bird!" at concerts, had the orchestra learn to perform the song so that they could go directly into it from whatever piece they were performing at the moment." Where can I find a recording of this?

I've always enjoyed orchestral covers of rock songs - something about the idea of "straight" musicians cutting loose. If nobody has any idea about the Free Bird thing, pointers to similar stuff would be much-appreciated!
posted by nervestaple to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Look for Symphonic Tribute to [insert band here] and you'll find a lot. Off the top of my head I can tell you that Tool, Radiohead, and System of a Down have people covering their stuff. And with Metallica, there's Apacolyptica with Plays Metallica With Four Cellos as well as songs getting onto other albums of theirs.

I'll check with my girlfriend about your specific example. She lives there and this is the kind of thing she would know about.
posted by theichibun at 11:10 PM on July 25, 2008

Also look at Vitamin String Quartet.

My fiancee and I plan to have some of their music playing during some of the slow parts of our wedding/reception.

Funny how you mention Free Bird. Last week, I saw Lang Lang at the Hollywood Bowl and when everyone was taking a bow, I had an urge to yell out Free Bird!. Might have done it too, if I hadn't been in the nosebleed section.
posted by Cog at 12:12 AM on July 26, 2008

Where I live, for better or worse, "Free Bird" is kind of sacrosanct. Believe it or not, Lynyrd Skynyrd still protects the song, vociferously, not just for the money it still brings in, but because it still brings tears to the eyes of their die hard fans. And we've got bars and music halls that enshrine "Free Bird" in their names; around here, it's not a cliche, or the takeoff point of a rant, it's a bit of local color, and bands often swing into at least the intro, when somebody shouts.

If it's worth a buck to you, the Vitamin String Quartet has you covered [as, on preview, Cog notes above]. For free, you could hear fabulous tales from Mitch Myers such as how Adam Coil, 'The Boy Who Cried "Free Bird" ' allegedly forced Keith Jarrett from a stage before he played a single note. And of course, there's Monty Montgomery's "Stairway to Free Bird."

I think the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra has done "Free Bird" in a couple of performances, but I can't find any references on the Web. At least they have a sense of humor, and they're occasionally booked as the backing band for weirder gigs, however, so I'll keep looking.

But, to be honest, not too hard.
posted by paulsc at 1:41 AM on July 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

"The conductor of the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra, David Stahl, irritated by outbursts of "Free Bird!" at concerts, had the orchestra learn to perform the song so that they could go directly into it from whatever piece they were performing at the moment."

This just has to be someone gaming Wikipedia. Someone I admire very much.
posted by LarryC at 9:08 AM on July 26, 2008

OK, I just emailed the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, if they respond on Monday I will post the answer here.
posted by LarryC at 9:16 AM on July 26, 2008

Looking forward to hearing what Charleston writes back!

In the meantime:

Metallica recorded with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra - you can see it on YouTube or buy the disc, called S & M.
posted by kristi at 9:51 AM on July 26, 2008

I agree with LarryC. Unless symphony concerts are very, very different in Charleston, SC than they are anywhere else in the US.
posted by muddgirl at 10:45 AM on July 26, 2008

Thanks for the response so far, especially the Vitamin String Quartet. And don't worry, paulsc, I agree with you on Free Bird's supremacy in perpetuity for all time and throughout the universe - curiosity just compelled me to seek out the novelty of a "classical" Free Bird.

In general, I enjoy that novelty of hearing a familiar song in a different genre. And even occasionally, the results can result in vast improvement: I enjoyed the Santa Esmerelda latin cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" much more than the Animals version.
posted by nervestaple at 10:53 AM on July 26, 2008

posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 10:59 AM on July 26, 2008

posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 11:13 AM on July 26, 2008

I'm also with Larry C, I cannot imagine for a moment a symphony orchestra doing this, unless it was a gag once at a pops concert. That could have happened, but can you imagine an orchestra suddenly switching to "Free Bird" during the Adagietto of Mahler 5? The blue-rinse brigade would cancel their subscriptions before you could say "Gimme Three Steps".
posted by ob at 1:54 PM on July 26, 2008

Just heard on the radio this morning that next Friday, (August 1st), the Baltimore Symphony will be performing a tribute to the Grateful Dead. You can hear some previews here.
posted by marsha56 at 2:11 PM on July 26, 2008

Posting this for my non-mefite friend:
"Hi! This is Maestro Stahl's daughter. I just found out about this and emailed him, and he responded that he had no idea what Wikipedia was talking about. He did say that someone else had mentioned it to him, though. I do think it's a funny prank but we told the Discussion page for that entry that it wasn't true."
posted by casarkos at 5:18 PM on September 18, 2008

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