News > Composer Converts Queen Rock Anthems Into Symphony

Added on 06-Nov-2002

LONDON (Reuters) - A selection of some of the most memorable anthems of rock supergroup Queen and its iconic singer Freddie Mercury (news) have found orchestral incarnation as the Queen Symphony. "We Will Rock You," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We are the Champions" are among 13 songs taken by rising British composer Tolga Kashif as inspirations for his orchestral and choral work.

"In seeking to reinvent rather than purely orchestrate it, I have found that Queen's music inherently contains the language of the modern classical genre," he said in sleeve notes to the EMI compact disc of the symphony.

"I think Queen's music will always be remembered because it become part of the human consciousness. You only need to hear two notes," Kashif added in a statement.

Throughout the six movements, the unmistakable themes recur, sometimes crystal clear and sometimes just a whisper.

Nowhere is it clearer than in the third movement adagio -- dubbed the yearning -- where a soaring violin carries Mercury's trademark "Who wants to live forever" to new heights.

It is a tune the composer, who has already worked with stars such as Elton John, David Bowie and U2's Bono, returns to at the finale, which carries the unofficial title of Homage.

"Anyone who is expecting to hear mere orchestral arrangements of Queen songs is in for a big shock," Queen guitarist Brian May said on the eve of the symphony's world premier at London's Royal Festival Hall.

"This is something monumental and quite outrageous," he added. "Tolga Kashif is a man with his own agenda in this symphony, based on the body of work Queen built up over 30 years or so but taking the material to an entirely new place."

Mercury -- whose real name was Freddie Bulsara -- died of AIDS in November 1991, effectively drawing down the curtain on one of Britain's most consistently successful rock bands.

But that fact does not seem to have had much impact on the group's popularity.

The three surviving members -- May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon who will be at the symphony's premier on Wednesday -- have a hit West End musical of their work and top selling CDs and DVDs of their greatest hits.

Submitted by: Richard Orchard

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