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Scott Amendola to Debut Piece with Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra

Scott Amendola’s orchestral collaboration, “Fade To Orange” premiers with Nels Cline on guitar, Trevor Dunn on bass and Amendola on drums

Scott Amendola
Trevor Dunn

Romanticism, for guitarist Nels Cline, “speaks to me to the idea of transformation and the idea of surrender.” It’s “a vast topic” for him, he says, something he has thought about throughout a varied career, of which rock stardom with the band Wilco is just one part. Citing torch songs, flamenco, tango, and Goth, he adds, “Romanticism to me is ultimately about a kind of exuberant life force which I think is heightened by a sense of the inevitability of death.”

Cline will have a chance to revisit his theories on Friday, April 15 at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, where he will take part in an evening of performance with the Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra, billed as, “The Height of Romanticism.” After the orchestra performs Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and Bernard Herrmann’s “Suite from Vertigo” (the Alfred Hitchcock film), Cline and bassist Trevor Dunn will join their Nels Cline Singers band mate, drummer Scott Amendola, for the premier of “Fade To Orange,” a piece Amendola was commissioned to compose for the symphony’s New Voices/New Vistas program.

“Fade To Orange” was written with the Singers in mind. “I know I could put any idea in front of them and they’re going to understand what I’m going for, “says Amendola “and that’s exactly what you want.” Cline and Dunn will both be plugging in, which should make the collaboration with the orchestra particularly interesting. Asked if he sees the piece as a blending of specific genres, Amendola says, “What I really want from everybody is for them to get into my genre, to get out of their own box and just listen to what I have to say compositionally…there’s a groove section, there’s some more impressionistic sort of quiet sections, they are some nosier sections and there’s some really loud sections.”

Cline says he hears Amendola’s music as, “leaning a little more toward something I might call folkloric rather than so-called jazz, in that his melodies tend to be rather straightforward singable melodies. They tend to draw on music that’s-well I was going to use a bad rhyme there and say, “more sung than swung.”

Reached on Friday, Cline was still on the east coast and had not yet seen or heard any guidelines for “Fade to Orange.” “I saw Scott in New York last week,” he Cline reports. “All he kept saying was, ‘it’s going to be fun,’ and as he was saying it, he had a funny little grin on his face…”

One thing that is clear about “Fade To Orange” in the days before its premier is that it comes from a romantic place. Amendola wrote the piece for his wife and its performance coincides with their wedding anniversary. The title refers to sunset observed from the Bay Bridge. “It’s really something that after all this time I never get tired of,” Amendola says. “It always reminds me of why I live here. It’s comforting somehow. And when I met my wife and found out it was her favorite color, I’d walk across the bridge and I would think ‘Man, this reminds me of her now.'”

As far as inspiration, it’s certainly the height of Romanticism. In performance, the collaboration of the plugged-in improvisers and the symphony orchestra will no doubt rely upon “transformation and surrender.”

Originally Published