There are a handful of bands with music that lends itself to the mighty swoop of an orchestra behind it: Led Zeppelin, Queen, the Who, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones are a few.
But those five names are already crossed off the checklist of conductor Brent Havens. So for his next trick of marrying rock with orchestral music? He’s going stadium-size with the music of U2.
On Saturday at Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Havens, singer Brody Dolyniuk, a four-piece rock band and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will unveil “The Music of U2,” the 11th production from Windborne Music, which Havens founded in 1990. Five years later, Havens presented his first live production of classic rock music with an orchestra — “The Music of Led Zeppelin.” It debuted at — drumroll, please — Chastain, with the ASO sharing the stage.
That familiarity is one reason Havens chose Atlanta to christen the U2 show and also, he said, “We really like to get a major orchestra to do the premieres.”
The Windborne management crew first started pondering a U2 show last year. Creating a new production takes Havens about a month and a half of transcribing music charts to suit an orchestra and many more months of preparation — to the point that during this interview in mid-May, he was still tinkering with details.
But his secret weapon is Dolyniuk, a longtime Las Vegas rock singer (he’s since moved to California) who joined the Windborne team in 2009 for “The Music of Queen” show.
“I call him up and say, ‘Can you sing this?’ Except for the Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson shows, that is,” Havens said with a laugh.
Though Dolyniuk spent years in the Land of the Impersonator (he was well-regarded as the leader of Yellow Brick Road, a classic rock cover band he founded in 1997), he is adamant that his role isn’t about dressing up and offering a cheesy imitation of a superstar rock frontman. Instead, he tries to approximate the vocal range and tone of the singer so the audience gets the proper vibe, but, “I’m 100 percent Brody on stage,” he said.
Havens promises that fans of U2 and symphonic rock will be sated with a show that he describes as, “Not just an orchestra show … not just a band show … it’s a rock show. It’s got rock lighting. And it’s not like the orchestra is relegated to the background. They are another part of a rock band. It’s not a symphony show. It’s not soft.”
Some of the selections likely to make the set list include “Beautiful Day,” “Vertigo,” “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
While working out the musical arrangements, Havens said he was a bit surprised to learn that, while many of the band’s songs “were a couple of chords,” many others featured “all of this intricate stuff that (U2 guitarist) the Edge is doing in the background.”
For his part, Dolyniuk has spent weeks immersing himself in U2’s catalog and singing along with the band’s distinctive vocalist.
“Bono is one of the most difficult singers to capture. He’s one of the greatest singers and frontmen of his time, and he and U2 are one of the last great rock bands,” Dolyniuk said. “He doesn’t have that scream-y nature that a lot of famous frontmen have. He has a high range and a thick tone. He’s deceptively difficult to master.”
As Windborne’s other productions continue to crisscross the U.S. (next week, “The Music of Queen” plays Pittsburgh; “The Music of the Eagles” hits Indianapolis; and that stalwart, “The Music of the Rolling Stones,” visits Fort Worth, Texas), the future of “The Music of U2” lies in Salt Lake City on July 12.
Expect it to arrive with a bang. And many violins.
“The Music of U2” with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. 8 p.m. Saturday. $20-$49. Chastain Park Amphitheatre, 4469 Stella Drive NW, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.