By Joseph Blake
Monday Magazine contributor
Victoria Symphony conductor in residence Joey Pietraroia grew up in Montreal listening to his three older sisters’ pop records by The Beatles and The Monkees, but he recalled it was his cousin who had a lot of records by Queen.
“I’ve always liked Queen,” Pietraroia explained recently in advance of the Victoria Symphony Pops concert Best of Queen, scheduled for three shows April 5, 6 and 7 at the Royal Theatre.
“When I was in Grade 7 or 8, one of my teachers incorporated Queen’s music into a theatre piece, and I found that very interesting. The music of Queen is classic. It’s an iconic band … of its time, but also timeless.”
Rami Malek’s Oscar-winning performance as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in the acclaimed film Bohemian Rhapsody has renewed public interest in the band and classic rock hits like “We Will Rock You,” “We Are The Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a song that had already experienced a cinematic second life in Wayne’s World.
“We started planning this concert over a year ago,” Pietraroia reflected, “long before any of us were aware of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie.”
For the concert, Pietraroia and the Symphony are teaming up with Jeans ‘n Classics. For over two decades this Ontario-based company has offered orchestral scores and a large roster of veteran rock musicians in over 40 unique tribute productions ranging from the music of ABBA, Bowie and U2 to Prince, The Who and Michael Jackson. The last time Jeans ‘n Classics came to town they produced a Beatles pop concert with Pietraoria and the Symphony.
British-born, Ontario-based lead vocalist Michael Shotton performs the Mercury part in Jeans ‘n Classics’ current Queen tribute. He has played with Boston, Rik Emmett, and The Spoons and led many other solo projects during a busy three-decade career. Veterans Katalin Kiss and Stephanie Martin serve as backing vocalists in a band that also includes guitarist Adam Martin, keyboardist Kevin Adamson, bassist Mitch Tyler, and drummer Jeff Christmas.
“It’s a chance to see the Symphony in another light,” Pietraroia enthused. “The orchestrations add another dimension in sonority and layered textures. For any Queen fan, this concert with the orchestra will be an exciting event.”
The concerts happen April 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and April 7 at 2 p.m. Visit rmts.bc.ca or call the box office at 250-386-6121 for tickets and more information.
Warm up by seeing the film … If you’re looking to further feed your love of Queen, four 2019 Oscar-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody, digitally remastered, continues nightly through April 4 at the National Geographic IMAX Theatre in the Royal B.C. Museum. Visit imaxvictoria.com for tickets and other details.