Valerie June with the BSO

As I have mentioned previously the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has been doing a series of concerts called BSO Pulse where they collaborate with an indie rock artist. They are now in their third season. This was the third of the four concerts, but the first one I have made it to this year.

As usual they start off with the BSO playing a classical piece. This time it was Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence for string orchestra. It was an excellent piece, and I very much enjoyed it.

Valerie June is a very interesting person. I don’t even really know how to describe her. She’s definitely living in her own little world. She seems like one of those dreamers that just sort of floats through life. She’s from outside Memphis originally and has a deep accent that gives her voice a fascinating quality. She is a wonderful story teller, which she did a lot of between songs. I always love that in a concert. Wikipedia describes her music as a mixture of folk, blues, gospel, soul, country, Appalachian and bluegrass, which seems about right.

She is definitely one of those artists whose music is not easy, but sometimes putting a little work into listening to music pays off. She was not someone who I liked that much when I first heard her, but the more I have listened the more I’ve connected with it. I do get that she’s not for everyone though, and I don’t judge anyone who don’t care for it.

As always the final three songs were a collaboration between the BSO and the artist. For the other concerts I’ve been to in the series Nicholas Hersh, Associate Conductor, has written the arrangements for whatever songs the BSO is going to be playing with the artist. For whatever reason these were written by someone else. I don’t know if whoever wrote the arrangements for Valerie June is someone whose work I like better or Valerie June’s music is just especially great backed by a symphony, but this was probably my favorite collaboration that I’ve seen so far.

I know they had a three year grant for this series, which should end this year. I am hopeful that they’ll continue doing these concerts even after the grant ends because I love these concerts.

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