Symphony Pops & Specials

Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra, Composed by R.E.M.'s Mike Mills for Robert McDuffie

“Melody is Mr. Mills’s strong suit, and he has filled his work with bluesy themes, propulsive figures and ear-catching riffs...Much of the work’s charm is in its virtuosic solo music, to which Mr. McDuffie brings the same energy, verve and warmth of tone that you hear on his recordings of concertos by Samuel Barber, Philip Glass and John Adams.”
The Wall Street Journal

"The work is cinematic but never schmaltzy, rock-inflected but never corny, classical but never stuffy..."
Rolling Stone

"Concerto [...] flourished Saturday night... A master of precision, fluidity, and speed, McDuffie did things an electric guitar player would be hard-pressed to match... With a sonic patterns welling from low-pitched cellos and violas to high-pitched violins, this movement rang out as a bittersweet triumph."

"McDuffie... [kicked] up plenty of raucous energy... [Concerto] was received with enthusiasm and cheers by the audience, and the program likely turned a lot of R.E.M. fans onto the music of John Adams and Philip Glass for the first time. 'Play Firebird!' yelled one audience member, and that witty twist on the usual rock request reflected the engaged and informal atmosphere... with rock and classical worlds converging as much as colliding."
Chicago Classical Review


Mike Mills, of two-decade rock powerhouse R.E.M., and Robert McDuffie, internationally renowned violinist, have been close friends since they were teenagers growing up in Macon, Georgia. In the spring of 2016, inspired by the blurred lines between contemporary classical audiences, pop, and contemporary music, McDuffie commissioned Mils to write a new composition that they could share with audiences both classical and modern.

Over 2016, the friends debuted Mills' new work "Concerto for Violin, Rock Band, and String Orchestra", premiering in . . .

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