My favorite Lehigh Valley-based band, Zen for Primates, performed in a very special show Saturday night at Allentown Symphony Hall. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t their show. It was a Pennsylvania Sinfonia show. Mike Krisukas, one of the founding members of Zen for Primates, wrote a composition titled "Lazy Dogma: A Piece for Trombone, Orchestra and Subconscious Protagonist" which the Pennsylvania Sinfoina Orchestra performed for the first time that night.
The entire experience was excellent. I bought my tickets Friday afternoon on the Lehigh Valley Arts Council website, printed them out and ended up with two great seats in the second row Saturday night. The Sinfonia, conducted by Allan Birney, did numbers by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev before the highlight of the show – Krisukas's "Lazy Dogma" piece.
For a Zen for Primates fan like myself, I could recognize their influences in the piece, but there was a bit of something in it for everyone – some hints of classical, jazz, latin and a taste of rock. According to Mike Krisukas in his written description printed in the program from the event: “The piece itself uses very simple themes which develop quickly and change direction, tempo and tonal center often. The music is set inside the conscience of an evolving human with two departures to ‘outside’ musical performances which our wandering protagonist witnesses.” So we wandered along with the changing influences of the music with the full sound of symphonic backup. It was an awesome performance.
Four musicians fronted the orchestra for the piece: Rick Chamberlain and Zen for Primates members Jodi Beder, Shelagh Maloney and Mike. Rick was superb on trombone. Jodi rocked-out on her quirky painted cello. Shelagh wowed everyone on violin. And Mike created a strong musical foundation on guitar. We were treated to some traditional “Zen” moments and it was fascinating to watch the faces of the Pennsylvania Sinfonia musicians watching the members of Zen for Primates perform.
Have you had the opportunity to see Zen? Have you seen the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra? You won't be sorry.