Chicago Tribune, Naperville Sun, September 9, 2015
by Annie Alleman
The McAninch Arts Center is kicking off its 2015-16 season in a seriously funky fashion.
“MAC Motown: Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” at 6 p.m. Saturday, is a fundraiser for the College of DuPage Foundation. The concert will kick off the 2015-16 McAninch Arts Center season.
The evening features The Motown Experience in concert with the New Philharmonic Orchestra. College of DuPage alumni and actor Jim Belushi will be on hand for the official dedication of the Belushi Performance Hall.
Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the MAC General Fund, New Philharmonic and Belushi Artists-in-Residence Fund.
New Philharmonic is under the direction of conductor Kirk Muspratt, and will back The Motown Experience on toe-tappers like “Get Ready,” “Tears of a Clown,” “Cool Jerk,” “My Girl,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “Baby I Need Your Loving” and “ABC.”
Muspratt teamed with The Motown Experience a few months before with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, and knew firsthand what a magical night audiences can expect.
“We did a pop show with them. They were very, very popular and people loved them. People were up and dancing,” he said. “The guys were really great; very personable and easygoing. They spend a lot of time with the audience afterward; hanging out and talking to them and signing autographs. They audience really connected with them. The place was just rocking by the time we finished the concerts. Everybody was up dancing and laughing. It’s wonderful music — well, it’s Motown.”
The New Philharmonic is comprised of classically trained professional musicians, but that doesn’t equal stuffy. He group is well-versed in all styles of music and looking forward to the experience.
“Musicians today are trained so well, they can play anything,” he said.
Motown has earned a place in pop music history; most everyone can identify a song from that era in time.
“They certainly are a part of our culture,” he said. “It’s funny how infectious that music is. It’s infectious physically — when you sort of turn a little bit around and see a whole audience moving. And it’s all different generations.”
The show isn’t just about singing — the Motown Experience brings lights and costumes and slick dance moves, too.
He recommends the show because “They will not have seen a Motown group this good maybe ever, unless they were lucky enough in 1960-something to see those guys then,” he said. “If not, they will not have seen a Motown group this good ever. They’re really very good and they’re fun and it’s a really happy concert. If you down at the orchestra’s faces, they’re smiling. If you look out into the audience, everyone is smiling and having a good time. And we’re in a very intimate hall, Belushi Concert Hall. It’s going to be rocking in there.”
The Motown Experience is comprised of Miracles’ Dave Finley; George Wilson, former member of The Capitols; and former members of the Temptations Charles Franklin and Doug Gaddy. The Motown Experience is under the direction of Glen Raby. He was the musical director for The Contours for many years. After leaving them, he put together a “dream team” of Motown artists.
“It’s a collaboration of various artists from multiple Motown groups,” Raby said.
Most of his shows feature the four singers with a six-piece band. Doing a concert backed by a symphony is a rare gift, he said.
“It’s always a treat when we get to work with a symphony orchestra,” he said. “It’s much lusher, richer, fuller sound — it adds so much color to the music that is limited when you only have a few musicians as the backup band.”
Back Motown’s heyday, if a Motown group wanted to record with a symphony, they had to find or build a stage big enough to fit everyone and their instruments and record everyone in real time, he said.
“It produced arguably some of the best pop recordings of the era, and we wanted to re-create that as best we could when we put our symphony show together,” he said. “It’s really great to have the actual violins and bassoons that were on the recordings.”
Annie Alleman is a freelance writer.
‘MAC Motown: Signed, Sealed, Delivered’
Where: McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, 425 22nd St., Glen Ellyn
Information: 630-942-4000; www.atthemac.org