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STILLS

 

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PRESS REVIEWS

 

"Elvis Schoenberg.  Or is it Howlin' Charles Ives?  Ludwig Von Ellington?  Thelonious Verdi?  Finally, the thrill of listening to two radio stations at once, and that elusive and joyous moment when the melodies coincide.  Good old technology, generally two laps ahead of the musician-composer, has literally filled our air with music: the car, the neighbor's upstairs window, the joggers headphones, the electronic chirping birds that let the blind cross the street, and the produce section at the market.  To think that we can separate one influence from the other is as ludicrous as thinking we can pick out the nitrogen and hydrogen from a single breath. 
 

What is rare is that individual who not only acknowledges all that has assaulted his ears but has the mastery and skill to deconstruct it, re-construct it, and spew it back in a new and exiting form.

 

This music provides the same thrill as visiting the garage of that crazy guy two streets over who couldn't do or be anything else if his life depended on it. 

 

Elvis has indeed left the building, and thank God there are still a few people who are willing to tread that thin line between commitment and being committed." 
 

Martin Mull, actor and comedian

 

 

 

 

 

"I had some idea of what to expect, and a pretty good idea that some sort of treat was in store, and there would be some challenging charts that only the best musicians could get through. I got more than that. I was immediately engulfed not only by The Fabulous Miss Thing but by the huge sound these guys and gals put out.

"What better way to introduce the complexities and simplicities of music to a younger generation than using humor, intellect and recognition!? And what better way to re-introduce the old farts to stuff they thought they knew. Having toured and jammed with Jimi, who was seeking Bartok during his 'Purple Haze', he'd have loved the Orchestre Surr
eal's version of, 'All Along The Watchtower' He'd definitely have had the hots for Miss Thing.

"Their arrangements bring a significant different meaning into the originals while their mirror image brings their originals into great significant arrangements, leaving the discerning listener thinking that it should have always been that way. If they don't win a Grammy, Miss Thing can '...walk all over me'."

         
Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer)

 

 

 

 

The Orchestre Surreal is a unique live orchestral experience, rather than simply a classical concert.  Comprised of some of Los Angeles' top musicians, the orchestra tackles the great compositions of the titans of classical music with a wry, satirical point of view.   With Ross Wright leading the way as his alter-ego persona "Elvis Schoenberg," nothing is off limits.  The show takes psychedelic sidebars with its singers, electric guitars, and even a Theremin(!)  Part concert, part spectacle, and part just plain fun, you will never experience a music concert quite like that of The Orchestre Surreal. 

Jay Irwin, El Portal Theatre

 



"By day a mild-mannered musician and film composer, when Ross Wright gets anywhere near a podium, voila!, he becomes Elvis Schoenberg, fearlessly jumping boundaries of genre and taste in a single leap.

"Not merely content to perform shotgun marriages between the likes of Wagner and Nancy Sinatra, Mussorgsky and Santana, etc., Wright (er, Elvis) took on a more ambitious task Friday night at the Ford Amphitheatre; a 'book musical' of a sort, called
Symphony of the Absurd! It was, as Ed Sullivan would have said, 'a really big shew' in which Wright incorporated many of his set pieces and some newer numbers into a hellzapoppin' revue, with an eclectic assortment of dancers, sexy girls, pulp novel narrations, lighting effects, dry ice. In other words, it was a real hoot.


"The 'storyline', cooked up by Dangerous Dan O'Callaghan, the portly tenor who can also do cartwheels (shades of John Belushi), was a slender thing, indeed: Elvis and his friends save the Earth from an invasion of space aliens. It was just a ruse to link several of Wright's musical contraptions into a reasonably flowing whole, and perhaps to get in a few political licks,
with O'Callaghan deposing the current Chief Executive and running for office himself to the tune of the Bee Gees' Jive Talkin'.

"If anything, Wright's collages of this and that bring Frank Zappa to mind; the quick cuts between styles, the intricately difficult lines, the occasional jazz breaks. But Wright doesn't share Zappa's gleeful misanthropy; his lampooning seems more affectionate and respectful of his audience's love of pop culture. At one point, where 'Blue Suede Shoes' is sung against a wacky 12-tone setting, the idiom literally could be called Elvis Schoenberg.

"Much of this mayhem featured the vocals of the pink-platinum-haired chanteuse The Fabulous Miss Thing (Angela Carole Brown), whose delivery sometimes resembled that of Tina Turner and who also plays a mean Theremin.  The 22-piece Orchestre Surreal deftly handled any number of styles, with some good bebop breaks by the wind soloists."

 

Richard S. Ginell, Special to the TIMES       

 

 

 

 

 

"In the mad, campy world according to Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal, there's a whole lot of wailing and winking going on. In this L.A.-based outfit, classic rock nuggets are systematically turned on their ear, and altered with clever, disarming charts. Echoes of Frank Zappa's smarts-and-weisenheimer blend, Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque maneuvers, and post-Spike Jones approaches squirm through the music. If it sometimes threatens to buckle under the weight of its own acidic whimsy, it keeps impressing with its musicality.

 

"Its code of aesthetics (freely mixing high and low culture, high and low comedy) is encoded into the leader's nom de plume: The pelvis-oriented Elvis Presley, the rock icon, is mated with the cerebrum-oriented composer Arnold Schoenberg, the 'star' architect of serialism. 

 

"Wait! Isn't that a snippet of The Andy Griffith Show tossed into Riders on the Storm like a friendly stink bomb? And isn't that the ascending motif from The Rite of Spring under the last verse?

 

"One credibility gap in the whole new lounge-camp boom is that the music actually requires good musicians, if Esquivel taught un anything. Shameless theatricality and smirking humor should be countered by the powerful persuasion of a job well done by instrumentalists who know how to play their instruments. Count Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal as one band that does, and is fighting the good fight with the right musical weaponry."

 

Josef Woodard, LA TIMES

 

 

 

"This is one strange group!

 

"But strange in a very amusing way. From the fact that the majority of the band members were wearing odd hats to the interplay between leader Elvis Schoenberg and his singers, there is a lot of humor and chemistry in this group. Even when the inevitable miscue was made, Schoenberg handled it with great aplomb, making a short, but pithy statement about communication, and then announcing that therefore the band would be returning to measure 109. 

 

"This kind of tongue-in-cheek poke at the music establishment is done with skill and grace, never embarrassing anyone, but also sparing no one. The band proved with one big band jazz number that they can be serious when the occasion calls for it.

 

"For those who enjoy good satire and good music, you need to check out Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal." 

 

Jon Pepper, MUSIC CONNECTION   

 

 

 

 

 

"Any group that starts their set with a medley of Satisfaction and Over the Rainbow warrants the world 'surreal' in the their name. And Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal deserves even more than that. They play the most compelling, bizarre and mind-boggling collection of tunes anyone's warped mind could hope for. Imagine Beethoven's 5th as a swing ditty and Nancy Sinatra's Boots as a German rap number, and you'll have some idea as to what they do. Every selection was a twisted surprise that took unimaginable liberties with well-known songs, making most of them better than the originals.

 

"This excellent collection of players presented every song as if it were an epic opus, and the ease with which they utilized a myriad of styles was breathtaking, making their performance one of the memorable of the year.

 

"There is no preparation for this kind of show. The only thing you can do is hold onto your seat and go for the ride."

 

Bernard Baur, MUSIC CONNECTION

 

 

 

 

"To fully appreciate Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal it helps to have a well-developed taste for kitsch. The group's publicity materials compare their act to the flamboyant film musical Moulin Rouge, which isn't entirely off-track, but their outlandish personas, costumes, and trippy takes on rock classics like Born to Be Wild, Purple Haze, Bad Moon Rising, and Riders on the Storm are actually more akin to Andrew Lloyd Webber on acid.

 

"Picture a 20-piece ensemble attired in off-the-strip Vegas lounge wear, presenting absurdist theatre set to a rock soundtrack by Frank Zappa with punch lines that Spike Jones, Eddie Izzard, or even Sid Caesar might enjoy, and you'll begin to see the light. Their emphasis is unmistakably on "show" but stop and listen to the music (too theatrical to be lounge, careening wildly from classical to big band to hip-hop and classic rock) and it's hard not to be impressed by the sheer creative verve and compositional sophistication of the arrangements.

 

"The orchestra's the real deal; lushly arranged woodwinds, trumpets, French horns, trombones, violas and cellos, along with keyboards, guitars, and drums; but it's the silky Eartha Kitt-ness of the indeed Fabulous Miss Thing and the free-associating wackiness of her sometime-fez-wearing conductor/emcee that sets the group's musical direction and anything's-possible message. In this case, you really do have to see (and/or hear) to believe."
 

Bliss, INTO THE NIGHT

 

 

 

 

 

"Though the arrangements are on the edge of parody and will bring a smile to the face, they never cross the line over into mockery. The songs are a tribute to diversity and convey a complimentary cosmic celebration."
 

TR Black, BLACKEYE

 

 

 



"Schoenberg and company have made a name for themselves as superb musicians and as performance artists who bring a robust theatricality and strong visual elements to the stage."

Jane Emery,
LA SPLASH

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BIOGRAPHY OF AN ORCHESTRA

 

Theirs is but one mission:

To boldly go where no orchestra has gone before

 

 

Conducted by the deranged baton of Elvis Schoenberg (the musical miscegenation of the king of rock, Elvis Presley, and the King of early 20th-century dodecaphonic music, Arnold Schoenberg), the Orchestre Surreal is the brainchild of composer, orchestrator, and conductor, Ross Wright AKA Elvis Schoenberg, who has clearly paved the way for a New Avant-Garde.

 

A wild and seductive orchestral ride that pushes against the boundaries of genre, and dares to suggest a world stripped of those borders, the Orchestre Surreal presents radically different artistic expressions that, in Elvis Schoenberg's world, have every obligation to collide. The result is a celebratory deconstructing of known and unknown songs with the wit and whimsy of Spike Jones and the musical complexities of Frank Zappa, and a showcasing of the wackiest wacky-savant orchestra of thirty musicians in recent history.

 

Launched in 1997, the Orchestre Surreal came out of composer Ross Wright's mission to create a project that would strip away the barriers of cultural, generational, and artistic divide, and promote the message of open-mindedness through art.  A student of the music of composers such as Arnold Schoenberg and the New Music school (his Bachelors Degree is from Cal State Northridge, and his Masters is from Cal State L.A.), as well as a devotee of Frank Zappa, the peculiar mixture of Wright's musical influences helped to further shape his vision.

 

The result of this circus madness and devotion to a world of magic is Elvis Schoenberg's Orchestre Surreal, whose intrinsic humor is in the strange-bedfellows environment he and his merry band of players have brazenly created, on such stages as:

The Whiskey A Go-Go (The OS is the only orchestra to EVER grace the legendary rock stage)

The Knitting Factory

The El Rey Theatre

The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, for the 2005 PBS special L.A. County Holiday Extravaganza at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Alvas Showroom

California Plaza

Three fully scripted shows: Symphony of the Absurd, Dismembering the Classics, and Concerto for the Committed at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre

The El Portal Theatre

The Grove Shakespeare Festival

The Muckenthaler Amphitheatre

The Earth Day Festival

The Democratic National Rally

Comic-Con!

The Burning Man Decompression Festival

The infamous Pasadena Doo-Dah Parade

 

As well as a few badges of Merry Madness they've received:

The Los Angeles Music Award for "Best Rock Opera" and "Best Orchestral Arranging" for Symphony of the Absurd

L.A. Weekly's "Pick of the Week"

Music Connection's Top 100 Unsigned Acts List

 

... And oh, so many more Earth landings, sightings, abductions, and probes.

 

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SOCIAL MEDIA