Brent Havens

Brent Havens

Mark your calendars — on April 12, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra will paint the Altria Theater black (figuratively speaking, of course).

They’ll be partnering with Windborne Music for a “Music Of The Rolling Stones” program, complete with a full rock band, singer and a set list that, according to the Symphony’s website, contains “nearly all of the Stones’ number 1 hits.” I was curious about what went into a production like this, so I reached out to Windborne and talked with the company’s founder, Brent Havens. Arranging, conducting, and composing, Havens has developed nine of these symphonic rock programs (others include The Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd). He also composes for TV and film. He’s a busy dude.

We had a really interesting conversation, and you can read the highlights in this West End’s Best article.

The thing that’s stuck with me since we talked is the breadth of experiences Havens has had during the course of his career. So many aspects of life are linear — we age in one direction, we often work jobs that offer a preestablished path for advancement — yet music is this field of endless engagement, with a winding and crisscrossing road map that leads to places you may never have visited otherwise. Stones fans find themselves at the Richmond Symphony. Richmond Symphony musicians find themselves knee-deep in some of the greatest rock songs ever written. A classically trained composer paves the path in between.

Here’s one of my favorite exchanges from the interview:

It seems like you reach a broad audience.

That was really the original intention of this. Why not expand your audience, because these orchestras are incredible. They can play anything, and a lot of people think “Eh, they just play their classical, and that’s good,” but then they realize their local symphony orchestra – like the Richmond Symphony – can kick butt with a rock and roll show too.

It’s inspiring. At its core, music is change — air being shaken on its way to your ear, frequencies moving up or down — and it can be such a powerful agent for redirection and discovery in our lives. I’m glad I got to talk with Havens, and I hope you’ll check out the interview and go see his handiwork on April 12.

The Rolling Stones — “Paint It Black” [Spotify/iTunes]

The Rolling Stones — “Gimme Shelter” [Spotify/iTunes]

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