A local audience will get a sneak peak Friday at a concept that could be heard nationwide in the coming years.
The Buckinghams will perform at Stambaugh Auditorium playing its hits from the '60s and other favorites from that decade backed by an orchestra. It's a test run for the Buckinghams' first full-size orchestral concert next weekend in Newark.
Both the concept and Friday's concert were made possible by Howland native Mariano Longo, who is the founder of Orchestral Events, a company that will create a concert mixing classic rock and pop with a classical orchestra that can be scheduled by orchestras for their pops concert series. His familiarity with the area and its musicians made the Mahoning Valley the logical place for what he called a ''soft opening'' for the concept.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
The Buckinghams will be backed by a 15-piece orchestra for a concert Friday at Stambaugh Auditorium.
''We'll team recording artists with regional symphonies that are looking for pop projects, looking for something beside the '1812 Overture' at the Fourth of July and 'The Nutcracker' at Christmas,'' Longo said. ''They're struggling to hold their audience and, let's face it, sometimes classical music is a tough sell. It helps the community, it helps the orchestra and it helps the artist.''
The concept makes sense as well for acts like The Buckinghams, whose top 40 hits in the late '60s include ''Kind of a Drag,'' ''Don't You Care,'' ''Mercy, Mercy, Mercy'' and ''Susan.''
''It's opening up a whole new market for them because their music was orchestrated originally,'' Longo said. ''All of these acts in the '60s used strings and horns and woodwinds on their original recordings, especially for the album cuts.''
WHAT: The Buckinghams Orchestral Concert
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Stambaugh Auditorium, 1000 Fifth Ave., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $45, $35 and $25. Tickets are available at the Stambaugh box office and by calling 330-259-0555.
In the '70s and '80s, those orchestras were replaced by synthesizers, a sound that is dated to today's listeners.
''It's a logical progression for those artists to move in this direction,'' Longo said.
Carl Giammarese, a founding member of The Buckinghams along with Nick Fortuna, said the concept was appealing to the group.
''We're excited about doing it,'' Giammarese said. ''It's a great way to expand and do different things. We've talked about playing with symphony orchestras in the past and it was just never able to come together.''
What makes it prohibitive for most acts is the cost of scoring their music for an orchestra of 30 pieces or more. That's where Longo comes in. The musician has worked as a pianist, band leader and arranger for many acts over the years.
He was responsible for the 2007 concert at the Warren Community Amphitheatre featuring both '60s pop star Gary Puckett and local rockers The Kellys backed by a 30-piece orchestra.
''I've done orchestral charts for a number of different people over the years, and I've been a Buckinghams' fan since I was growing up on Niles-Cortland Road,'' Longo said.
In addition to the Buckinghams' songs, Friday's concert will feature some other iconic hits from the decade, such as The Hollies' ''He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother,'' The Mindbenders' ''Bend Me, Shape Me'' and Brooklyn Bridge's ''Worst That Could Happen.'' For The Doors' ''Touch Me,'' Longo created an orchestral introduction that gives the song an entirely different feel, he said.
Those arrangements for songs by other artists could be incorporated into shows for other Orchestral Events' clients.
For the Stambaugh performance, The Buckinghams will be backed by a 15-piece orchestra, which is smaller than the concerts normally will feature but big enough so that all sections of the orchestra will be represented.
The Buckinghams maintain a busy touring schedule and just wrapped a summer trek with The Turtles, Puckett, The Grass Roots and Mickey Dolenz from The Monkees. And the orchestral option makes the group more attractive to promoters and fans.
''Nick and I both look at it as another opportunity to play our music in a different way with a different sound to it,'' Giammarese said. ''We hope to take it out and do it every so often as much as we can. There aren't too many bands, especially from our genre, that are prepared to play a symphony date.''