The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is honoring a rock ’n’ roll icon with The Music of David Bowie, a one-day show scheduled at Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on July 10 — six months to the day after the singer died of cancer at the age of 69.
Guest conductor Brent Havens says he was coincidentally already at work on a Bowie-inspired show when news of the singer’s death broke. The Berklee-trained arranger and conductor had previously worked on other symphonic rock productions featuring the music of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Queen, Michael Jackson, U2, and others.
“I like to do a whole lot of research before we actually decide to create a show,” he says. “We were in the midst of that when (Bowie) passed away, and orchestras just started calling.”
But don’t call it a cover band. Havens says not to expect costume-wearing Bowie impersonators, nor radical reinterpretations of the tunes. “How we put it is that we’re celebrating the artist and his music,” he says. “It’s all the material from the albums with all the enhancement a full orchestra can bring.”
The setlist will include some 18 songs, including hits like “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Under Pressure,” “Heroes,” and “Rebel Rebel.” But Havens says his focus is on creating something for Bowie’s fans, including “hidden gem” songs that only die-hards would know.
Aside from honoring the groundbreaking musician, the goal is to draw an audience that wouldn’t normally come to see the DSO.
“It’s going to be a rock show,” Havens says. “It’s not a symphony concert — it’s a rock concert with a symphony orchestra.”
Tickets are $20 to $75, with lawn four-packs available for $60. dso.org