The unforgettable melodies, smooth choreography and effortless charm of the Motown era will be brought to life this weekend when the Bangor Symphony Orchestra performs a night of classic R&B and soul hits with vocal quartet Spectrum and conductor William Grimes.
The concert, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, March 26, is a co-production between the BSO and the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono. It builds on the success of last year’s Pops concert, which featured the music of The Beatles. That show, the first of its kind for the BSO, sold out quickly and invited a whole new audience of music fans into the BSO family.
“I think the idea is that we’re following in a line of great music, and we want to champion that,” said BSO executive director David Whitehill. “I think people really love to hear their favorite bands and genres come to life. The Beatles and the artists on Motown never got to play live with an orchestra, even if they recorded with orchestras in the studio. It’s really rewarding for people to get to see that performed live — and with their hometown orchestra.”
Spectrum, the group that will be singing everything from the Temptations and the Four Tops to the O’Jays, is an accomplished group of four vocalists. Made up of Darryl Grant, Pierre Jovan, David Prescott and Cushney Roberts, Spectrum has been performing together for about a decade, with numerous shows in Las Vegas and on cruise ships. They’ve performed with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Little Richard and Tony Bennett, have appeared on the “Today” show and been awarded the Vegas Entertainment Consumer’s Living Legends Award for Excellence in Entertainment. With them, they bring a five-piece band that will play with the BSO.
“They know these songs very well, and the orchestral programs they do really take the songs to a new level,” said Whitehill. “I saw them in concert in Vegas without the orchestra, and I can only imagine that with the orchestra, they’re even better.”
The spirit and soul of Motown remains popular 50 years after early hits were on the radio. There’s something timeless about songs like “My Girl” and “Stand By Me.”
“I think when you hear these songs, you think of that special person in your life who you love,” said Whitehill. “It’s something that transcends generations.”
As for future Pops concerts, Whitehill said he has received lots of suggestions from BSO fans — from Queen to Frank Sinatra, and even a James Bond movie theme night.
“There are so many possibilities for a concert like this,” he said. “Everyone has their favorite group or artist that they want to see. We’ve got all kinds of ideas on the table.”
Tickets are still available for “The Pops: An Evening of Motown and R&B with Spectrum,” set for 8 p.m. Saturday, March 26, at the Collins Center for the Arts.