The program, emceed by KSBY daytime anchor Dan Shadwell, includes such classic Yes songs as “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” “Roundabout” and “Long Distance Runaround,” as well as Beatles favorites “Blackbird” and “A Day in the Life.”
“I’ve always thought it’d be wonderful to sing with the orchestra,” Anderson said, praising the San Luis Obispo Symphony as “one of the finest orchestras in North America.” “It’s wonderful to hear these people playing around you. It’s like you’re surrounded by this energy.”
Anderson who formed the progressive rock band Yes with bassist Chris Squire in 1968, grew up listening to classical music by the likes of Edward Elgar, Igor Stravinsky and Ralph Vaughan Williams on the BBC.
“You just wondered ‘How do people create that kind of music?’ ” the Englishman recalled.
Years later, Anderson decided to incorporate some of the symphonic sounds he’d heard on the radio into modern rock ’n’ roll. Yes’s second album, 1970’s “Time and a Word,” was its first to feature a live studio orchestra.
The 1993 album “Symphonic Music of Yes,” featuring orchestral versions of Yes songs arranged by Jethro Tull’s Dee Palmer, found Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Bill Bruford performing alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and the London Community Gospel Choir. Then, in 2001, Yes joined forces with a 60-piece orchestra for the album “Magnification.”
“That was the joy of working with Yes. They’re very talented musicians (so their music) translates very well to orchestra,” said Anderson, who parted ways with the band in 2008.
San Luis Obispo Symphony Music Director Michael Nowak, a self-avowed Yes fan, said he’s wanted to collaborate with Anderson since the prog rocker moved to Arroyo Grande around 1995.
However, Nowak added, Anderson’s busy schedule prevented him from teaming up with the symphony until now — as did a shortage of musical scores of Anderson’s songs arranged for orchestra.
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