By MIKE CHAIKEN
The Machine does things differently when it partners up with an orchestra, as it will do on Friday night when it is joined by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
In a phone interview, The Machine’s drummer Tahrah Cohen explained that some bands playing with an orchestra tend to use the ensemble as an embellishment… a teaspoon of sugar to their coffee.
And sometimes, she explained the arrangements will put that band and the orchestra at musical odds.
But when The Machine, which has based its career on interpreting the music of Pink Floyd, developed an arrangement for “Dark Side of the Moon,” they crafted a musical partnership full of complexities.
“It’s a beautiful version,” said Tahrah of their orchestral take on the seminal album, which is best known for the tracks, “Money” and “Time.”
Tarah said, “(In the arrangement created for The Machine) nothing gets in the way.
The strings also add a depth to the songs, said Tahrah, who is joined in The Machine by Adam Minkoff (guitar, vocals), Ryan Ball (bass, vocals), and Scott Chasolen (keys, vocals). “Comfortably Numb” is a prime example of how the orchestra transforms the song, she said.
Tahrah said, without exaggeration, she has played the track from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at least 2,000 times through the years.
But, she said, “When you play with the orchestra, it’s so emotional. I get teary eyed.”
The symphonic ensemble brings the music alive and heightens the emotions, said Tahrah.
Musically, Tahrah said, there are few challenges working with an orchestra. The members of the orchestra are pros and when they get the music, they are ready to go. That’s what they do for a living, said Tahrah. They see notes on the sheet music just as most people see the words on the written page.
“And Hartford is a great orchestra,” said Tahrah.
The biggest challenge is entirely technical, said Tahrah. It’s a matter of how to balance the sound of the band and the orchestra so one does not drown out the other.
This will be the first time The Machine has performed with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, said Tahrah. But the group is no stranger to performances with orchestras. They have performed similar shows with symphonies from San Diego, Detroit, and Atlanta and others.
“They all know we do this,” said Tahrah. The orchestras view the performance partnershp as a great way to raise money, and win over new audiences. The orchestras know that when they team up with The Machine for this musical journey, they will fill the hall.
Pink Floyd is the perfect music for this kind of orchestral transformation, said Tahrah, because “It’s finely arranged… It’s not just a bunch of guitars playing chords.” Rick Wright, the band’s keyboardist, oftentimes was playing orchestral parts on his keyboard.
“Dark Side of the Moon” will be the centerpiece of the May 1 performance by The Machine. The group and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will play the album from beginning to end.
Asked why she thought the album worked as an orchestral piece, Tahrah said, “It speaks to the brilliance and timelessness of the music itself.” Whether the songs are played by a band or two ukuleles, the music continues to shine.
“The album is beautiful and with the orchestra, it takes (the songs) to another level,” said Tahrah.
“Not to oversell it, but it’s great music,” said Tahrah.
The Machine will perform backed by The Hartford Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carolyn Kuan, at College Street Music Hall, 238 College St., New Haven on Friday, May 1. Doors open at 7 p.m. Showtime is 8 p.m.
Tickets are $30 to $40.
For more information, go www. themachinelive.com or www.hartfordsymphony.org or call 1-877-435-9849.
By MIKE CHAIKEN