Beatles tribute band to perfom in Hagerstown

March 18, 2011|By KATE COLEMAN |
  • Performing in the "Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to The Beatles," are from left, John Broanan as George Harrison, Tony Kishman as Paul McCartney, Chris Camilleri as Ringo Starr, and Jim Owen as John Lennon.
Submitted photo

Jim Owen began studying piano when he was 6 years old. Classical music was the reason he wanted to learn to play the instrument.

A couple of years later, he heard The Beatles and he started playing guitar.   

"I think I'm a lot like so many people who were inspired to take up instruments by The Beatles," he said in a phone interview from his home in California.

The young Owen's choice of instrument and the artists who inspired it have played a huge part in his life.

Owen has been performing "Classical Mystery Tour" with symphony orchestras since 1996. He has the best of both worlds.

That tour, a tribute to The Beatles, has a stop at The Maryland Theatre beginning at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24.

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will join in the tribute.

"I'm so excited to be performing the greatest hits of the 'Fab Four,'" Music Director Elizabeth Schulze wrote in an e-mail.

"Their songs have endured and are now true classics. Every age can relate," she added.

"What we're really trying to do is re-create a Beatles concert — actually one they never got to do themselves," Owen said.

"Some of the stuff we're doing they never played at all — with or without an orchestra — just in the studio," he explained, adding that The Beatles stopped doing live shows in 1966.

Owen, on rhythm guitar and piano, takes John Lennon's part. Tony Kishman is Paul McCartney on bass guitar and piano; John Brosnan, on lead guitar, is George Harrison; and Chris Camilleri is Ringo Starr on drums. Of course, they all sing the more than 22 songs on the program.

Owen and his band mates each bear an uncanny resemblance to the Beatle whose role he plays. It's generally coincidental, Owen said. In his case, he originally played Harrison because he was "really into the guitar." But as he got older, people told him he looked more like Lennon and suggested he try that Beatle.

Owen said he still loves classical music, but "Classical Mystery Tour" keeps him too busy to perform it. The quartet plays with 20 to 30 orchestras a year all over the United States. The orchestras' seasons and the concerts at which the four are guest artists require a lot of travel, "a lot of flying around," Owen said.

Owen drew a comparison between being a classical performer and what he and his band mates do. "We perform other people's music, and that's what you do in classical music. When I studied piano, I was learning other people's fantastic music that I wanted to play," he said.

Audiences for the "Classical Mystery Tour" with symphony orchestras are multigenerational. There are, of course, Beatles fans from the 1960s era. And Owen said he likes to see people who were a little older at the time The Beatles came out, but have come to appreciate them over the years.

"We do have a lot of younger kids coming to the concerts. The ones I'm most impressed with are teenagers who also like it," Owen said.

The appeal of The Beatles' music is lasting. The songs and the way they were performed with The Beatles' own arrangements are the first reason for that, Owen said. Variety is next: They didn't all sound like each other, and each Beatle contributed in his own way, Owen said.

Also, a lot of the message in the music is really positive.

"We do find that at the end of the show people leave really happy from the concert," Owen said.

Schulze called the act a "real rock 'n' roll show. We're all going to have fun!"

If you go ...

WHAT: "Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to The Beatles"

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $15 to $49 for adults. Student rush tickets (no reservations accepted) will be available for $5 at The Maryland Theatre box office 90 minutes before the performance. Seat selection will be at the discretion of box-office personnel.

Tickets are available by calling 301-797-4000 or in person at the Maryland Symphony Office, 30 W. Washington St., Hagerstown, weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets also may be purchased at the Maryland Theatre box office from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 24

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