About the Artist
The evolution of Rock Symphonies was a natural one for the 28-year-old Garrett. Having spent 2009 on tour in all corners of the world, he would find himself performing in clubs to arenas with a live rock band one night, followed by a classical concert hall with full symphony orchestra the next. Having a dual career is a rarity, and doing it successfully even more so. The bold violinist has always been a fan of both the classical and rock worlds he straddles. "I always enjoyed when rock groups integrated orchestra into in their sound, and it elevated the music to another level," comments Garrett. He continues, "any musician loves having the full sound of an orchestra behind them - it's an amazing experience."
Rock Symphonies main recording sessions took place at New York City's famed Electric Lady Studios, with the orchestra recorded in Prague. Highlights of the album include "Vivaldi Vs. Vertigo," a mashup of Vivaldi and U2's Vertigo, Nirvana's classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Led Zeppelin's timeless "Kashmir," and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," featuring a guest performance by Aussie guitar sensation Orianthi (seen in Michael Jackson's "This Is It"). Orianthi also joined Garrett on stage in Germany recently for his new Public Television concert special, "Rock Symphonies," to air on PBS throughout August on stations across the country.
David Garrett has been winning over audiences since the release of his self-titled debut album in June 2009. His numerous appearances have included performances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Today Show, Fox News Channel, CBS Saturday Early Show and his first PBS smash, "Live In Berlin." His technically jaw-dropping performance of "Flight of the Bumblebee," was recorded in the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest-ever performance of the piece (a blistering 66 seconds), wowing crowds the world over. In addition to being the best-selling new classical artist of 2009, he was also Billboard's #9 highest-charting new artist overall, across all genres. His CD David Garrett, debuted at #1 on Billboard's Classical Crossover Chart, and held the #1 position for nine weeks, remaining in the Top 10 for over 40 subsequent weeks .
David Garrett began playing violin at age four, and was signed to the prestigious classical music label Deutsche Grammophon by thirteen. Without telling his parents, he later fled Germany for New York, where he was accepted at the world famous Juilliard music school, studying under the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman. As a way to pay the bills, he moonlit as a busboy and model, landing him in the pages of Vogue and the Fashion Week catwalks for Armani. He subsequently has gained international stardom, with gold and platinum selling discs internationally, and chart-topping albums in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Far East and a Top 20 UK hit. His charisma, passion and dedication to the violin defy categorization
He's a star everywhere from the catwalk to the Billboard charts, but violinist David Garrett is ready to conquer new terrain with his groundbreaking Rock Symphonies album, available on Decca July 20th, just in time for his newest PBS special.
This international superstar has quickly amassed a huge and devoted audience--especially of a much younger fanbase than the listeners usually associated with classical music. His fresh, vibrant take on classical music has shot new life into this genre. He has gained international stardom, with chart-topping albums and gold and platinum selling discs across Europe, in the UK and the Far East.
The super-powered David has experienced huge success with American audiences as well. Not only was he Billboard's best-selling new classical music artist of 2009, but was the # 9 overall New Artist across all genres. His debut album for Decca, David Garrett, debuted at No. 1 on the Classical Crossover chart, and maintained its presence there for 31 solid weeks. In addition, David has been featured on Oprah, Fox & Friends, E! News, the Today Show, CBS Saturday Morning, CNN, and Good Morning America as well as NPR's "All Things Considered."
David's first music special for PBS, "Live in Berlin," was an enormous hit as well, and was broadcast during March, June, August, September, and December pledge drives. Following on the heels of his hit PBS special, David toured the U.S. extensively with sold-out dates nationwide.
Rock Symphonies brings together two of this German-born violinist's two great loves: classical music and the rock music of his generation.
"For many years, I've wanted to bring classical music to a younger audience," confides David, who was soloing with the greatest orchestras in the world by the time he was ten years old. "And I've seen fantastic results--I have a wonderful young audience enjoying Beethoven, Bach and Brahms, so that's a dream come true for me." It's a vision that he has worked towards all his life from his pre-adolescent performances with the London Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Russian National Orchestra to his concerts with legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin by age 12.
When he was thirteen years old, David signed a contract as a solo artist with one of the world's greatest classical record labels, Deutsche Grammophon. "I probably have spent more hours in my life playing violin than sleeping," the violinist, who began playing at age four, laughs. He still maintains an active classical career, playing concertos with traditional symphony orchestras.
But rock music has always been a real passion for David as well--and his concerto nights are interspersed with arena and club shows internationally with his own band. Rock Symphonies, recorded with the City of Prague Orchestra, is a love letter to his favorite bands, like Nirvana ("Smells Like Teen Spirit"), Guns N' Roses ("November Rain" as well as their cover of Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die"), Aerosmith ("Walk This Way"), U2 ("Vertigo"), Metallica ("Master of Puppets"), and Led Zeppelin ("Kashmir"). "I'm very big fan of 80s rock, of power ballads and that kind of stuff," David says. "And I think adding an orchestra elevates rock to a whole different level." The project is made all the more special by the appearance of the blistering, young Australian guitarist-singer Orianthi on "Walk This Way" who has previously worked with Carlos Santana, Carrie Underwood and Michael Jackson (where she performs on the international smash film "This Is It"). This summer Orianthi is on tour opening for Adam Lambert and also appears on the "Rock Symphonies" PBS special.
For David Garrett, whose idols go from Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page to his former teachers Itzhak Perlman and Ida Haendel, there shouldn't be any hierarchy between genres. "Choosing repertoire is very instinctive," David observes. "For this project, it was quite easy. We had a theme--rock--and we chose things with a very strong rhythmical vibe, whether it was Beethoven or Metallica. The concept of "Rock Symphonies" has been on my mind for a very long time. I've always thought that there was a very strong connection between classical and rock; there's a very strong sense of rhythm and a very strong sense of precision in both."
Certain tracks, like "Kashmir" and "Walk This Way," are absolute naturals for Rock Symphonies (as David notes, Aerosmith already paved the way for genre crossing with their now-classic collaboration with Run-DMC). But some choices are more surprising, like an innovative mashup of U2's "Vertigo" with Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and a revisiting of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which of course experienced life as a disco favorite in the late 1970s--here, it's recreated as a hard-rock headbanger's special. "Beethoven was someone with rock-star appeal," David explains. "The real definition of a rock star is someone who's extremely passionate about music, somebody who's a genius, and tries not to be afraid of exploring. Beethoven was definitely not a follower."
David winces when he's asked if this is a covers album. "That would be the most horrible thought," he says wryly. "First of all, I tried to view every song from a very different angle than the original, and sometimes even changed the whole character of the piece. Secondly, not using vocals gives a lot of freedom."
Born in Aachen, Germany with an American ballerina mother and a German lawyer as a father, David and his family were nurturing his international solo career since his early childhood. By his teens, he was subject to a grueling schedule of symphonic concerts and recordings--but even by then, he longed to escape that life. Without telling his parents, he fled to New York, where his life revolved around rock, clubbing, and a seemingly deserved rebellion, abandoning the classical violin.
But even in that hedonistic milieu, he realized that he missed the instrument that had been such a crucial part of his identity. He decided to audition at the world-famous Juilliard School, where he was not only accepted as a student, but also invited to join the studio of one of classical music's most legendary artists, Itzhak Perlman.
While he was at Juilliard, David began picking up various side jobs, including modeling gigs. His intense, chiseled looks quickly earned him a place in such magazines as Vogue and on the catwalk for Armani during Fashion Week. With such a fashion pedigree, his personal style is also a great hybrid of influences. "My fashion sense is very rock," David observes, "though I like to wear a suit too. I like to mix it up." That's true for his music-making as well - as evidenced on his groundbreaking Rock Symphonies album.