One day in 1974, 25 year-old Stevie Nicks sat in a friend’s living room in Aspen, Colorado gazing upon the Rocky Mountain scenery outside the windows and pondering how everything had come crashing down on her and Lindsey Buckingham, her musical and romantic partner.
The folk duo Buckingham Nicks had recently been dropped by their record label after their first album was a commercial failure, which had caused tensions in their relationship and led her to consider returning to school and a career change. It was in this uncertain mindset that she wrote the fragile and resigned lyrics to the song “Landslide.”
Little did she know at the time that within the same year the two would join a Los Angeles-based band searching for a new guitarist, and that the song would appear on an album which would forever change the trajectory of the band — and arguably the future of Pop music.
More than four decades later — on Friday and Saturday, May 4-5, at 7:30 p.m. — the Colorado Springs Philharmonic led by conductor Thomas Wilson will combine forces with another Rock band of Los Angeles-based musicians to perform “Landslide: The Music of Fleetwood Mac.”
When asked what audience members can expect to witness, the Philharmonic's president and CEO Nathan Newbrough details an elaborate stage production, “They’re going to get the full Rock n’ Roll experience. They’re going to get the lights, the sound and the haze. What we’re getting here are top performers and the energy onstage will be unforgettable.”
Not that it’s surprising the music of Fleetwood Mac would be a good choice to receive the orchestral treatment. Advancements in recording technology by the 1970s had allowed for studio wizardry before unheard of, and recording engineers took full advantage by layering multiple recorded tracks to create a full, multidimensional listening experience.
Newbrough says, “When you think of the music of Fleetwood Mac, it’s practically orchestral already, because it’s so intricate; the harmonies are so close and it’s so complex … but it has to be the right band.” He continues, “This kind of show doesn’t work with just any Rock n’ Roll band. It has to be a band that will work within a symphony orchestra environment.”
When asked if pairing an orchestra with a Rock band creates any obstacles during rehearsals, Newbrough says, “There are no hurdles, because everyone there is an absolute pro … it takes one rehearsal to put it together, and it’s solid. It’s so much fun, because everything is really, really polished.”
The Rock band performing with the Philharmonic features guitarist Dan Kalisher, keyboardist Steve Ferlazzo, bassist/vocalist Jennifer Jo Oberle, and vocalist Alisha Zalkin. They are all highly accomplished musicians with diverse professional backgrounds, and most of them have played with or supported internationally recognizable big-name acts. When asked if they will be recreating any of the well-known Buckingham/Nicks stage dramatics, Newbrough laughs, “They’re not trying to be Buckingham/Nicks. They’re not putting on wigs or makeup … it’s not a parody show. It’s a tribute to this amazing music. The energy coming from the stage in this kind of experience is fantastic.”
Does Philharmonic conductor Thomas Wilson himself like the music of Fleetwood Mac? “Absolutely!” exclaims Newbrough. “It’s interesting to see him work with a Rock band, because they’re really relying on each other. Sometimes (the orchestra) are just accompanying the Rock musicians, sometimes it’s the other way around. For people watching really closely, it’ll be very interesting to see the two play off each other.”
It should also not go unnoticed that this performance is a part of the “Philharmonic Cares” partnership the orchestra maintains throughout the season with support from UC Health-Memorial Hospital. Says Newbrough, “We set tickets aside for caregivers and first response workers in our community. We have 25 different partner organizations from hospice to the police and fire departments. These people have tough jobs — this is a night out on us.”
As we now know, what was once created by Stevie Nicks as a farewell ode to her music career was really just the beginning. After 44 years as part of a successful touring act, more than 100 million albums sold and her band’s 1998 induction to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, the doubts and fears she expressed in the lyrics to “Landslide” remain unfounded. Despite the shaky ground in their personal lives and relationships over the years, Fleetwood Mac created a body of work that remains rock solid.
Newbrough is enthusiastic when he explains how they will recreate the magic captured in those recordings for Colorado Springs audiences. “This is the world’s largest Rock n’ Roll band; that’s what this is … they’re going to get the entire experience, and it’s like nothing else. It’s absolutely indescribable to hear musicians like this play music we love, with a full symphony orchestra. You don’t get this anywhere else. It’s something we deeply enjoy preparing and bringing out to the community.”
To purchase tickets visit csphilharmonic.org, or call 719-520-SHOW.