Some of the world's most talented classical musicians are coming to California for a performance that will bring together celebrated compositions of Beethoven and light-hearted antics of Bugs Bunny.
Bach to the Future will perform classical fusion pieces like "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony" in the style of Carlos Santana and "Flight of the Bumblebee" in the progressive-rock style of Rush at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Finke Theatre.
The band's musical arranger and pianist, Michael Silverman, is the most downloaded solo pianist on the planet with his songs downloaded and streamed more than 2 billion times.
"We perform a lot of classical pieces that people are really familiar with, even if they've only watched cartoons," he said, referring to the band's rendition of Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2," as performed in the style of Bugs Bunny from the 1946 "Looney Toons" cartoon "Rhapsody Rabbit."
"It's classical music performed with world rhythms, jazz rhythms and rock rhythms," Silverman said. "Even if you aren't familiar with the music, you've probably heard it in commercials and cartoons."
Silverman formed the band in 2005 with his drumming brother, Rob Silverman. The two grew up in a classical music family. Their father, Robert Silverman, was in the St. Louis Symphony for 42 years.
"We grew up with the music, but we grew up in a part of St. Louis called U City, and it has a lot of different styles of music that you can hear," Michael Silverman said. "As we grew up, we came back to classical music and started incorporating it into a fusion of music, and it was immediately very popular."
The group is named after its first hit, "Bach to the Future," which it created as a jazz fusion group. The rendition of J.S. Bach's "Invention No. 1" is played in a jazzy 7/8 rhythm and became so popular it sent them on tours throughout North America. The group decided to carry on the fusion style to merge classical favorites with other genres from around the world.
Michael Silverman said the six-piece band performs with unique instruments that people may not see very often. He will take on the keytar. Top-level classical violinist Tracy Silverman (no relation) will play a six-string electric violin. Bassist Matt Bollinger plucks a six-string fretless wish bass made of reclaimed materials, and Rob Silverman has an electronic drum-guitar known as a zen drum. They are accompanied by Dave Black, one of the most celebrated guitarists in St. Louis, and percussionist Casey Adams, one of Michael Silverman's lifelong friends.
He said performing at the Finke Theatre again will be a nostalgic experience.
"We played at the Finke Theatre the first time we ever performed with Tracy Silverman two years ago," he said. "We are kind of excited to come back with him. It's a reunion, and we have good memories of playing there with Tracy. It is an exciting thing about this concert for us."