Monday, April 8, 2013
Natalie Merchant, who’ll perform with FWSO, finds inspiration working with orchestras
The singer is in town April 12-14 to perform with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
Distinctive songstress Natalie Merchant, well known for her ’90s hits, is headed to North Texas for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra’s Pop Series April 12-14. She will perform her latest release, Leave Your Sleep, a double symphonic album of children’s poems, along with a few of her familiar pop hits and new, unreleased material.
Merchant hasn’t made an album of solely original songs since 2001, but she’s continued to write through the years, as she told us in a phone interview. She plans to debut an original album in early 2014.
For Merchant, songwriting and performing are “thrilling,” and her work with orchestras is just part of a decades-long journey as an artist.
“I’ve been in music for over 30 years and to still be finding things to do that are new and challenging – it’s great,” she said.
Leave Your Sleep, which came out in 2010, paved the way for her current tour. She says the birth of her daughter inspired the deluxe record.
“I wrote the first adaptation when I was in my first week home from the hospital,” said Merchant. “I was so happy and excited and wanted to capture the moment, so I pulled some poems off the shelf, which were written by Christina Rossetti. Her poem ‘Crying My Little One’ was my first adaptation.”
The album was later turned into a children’s book that came out in November, illustrated by Barbara McClintock.
On her current nationwide tour, spread across many months, Merchant works with orchestras in each city, allowing her to experience touring in a new way.
- Bass Performance Hall
525 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX
- Age limit: All ages $27 - $79
“It’s an interesting model for touring — I don’t carry a band, I just bring my piano, conductor, and guitarist. We get around pretty easily,” she said. “It’s not the same as when I would go out with a full band where I played five shows a week and had a crew of 12 people and two buses. I find I’m much more inspired because I play infrequently, which is a special event for me.”
While on the road, Merchant has made it a point to play orchestral concerts aimed at educating children. The free shows give the kids a chance to experience symphonic music, up close and personal.
“In Las Vegas, 2,600 children were bused in for two free shows,” Merchang said. “A lot of these children have never been to a concert hall or heard these types of songs performed live before. You could’ve heard a pin drop — they were so well behaved, it was amazing.
“We separated the instruments so they could hear each one separately. They went crazy for the harp. They started cheering as if a flock of fairies had come down from the rafters.”
She says many staff members have thanked her after her ticketed shows, saying the orchestra doesn’t get to play to a full house very often.
“I feel like I might be helping increase the awareness of these orchestras. They’re collapsing all over the country. We just had to cancel a show in Indianapolis because they’re on strike,” she said. “These people study music for 25 years —it’s highly competitive. They work so hard to get a spot and once they finally make it onstage no one comes to see them!”
Merchant says she’s especially excited about the FWSO shows because they will be playing more than one night.
“The Fort Worth shows are going to be great because we’ll have so much time together with three shows and rehearsals, plus I’ll get to know the players. I usually don’t get a chance to know the orchestra because I show up for rehearsal and play for three hours, then we have the show.”
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