Photos courtesy of Cairn to Cairn

The Bijou Orchestra turns to classic rock music of the 60s through the 80s in "Acoustic Rock" to be held on March 13th at 8 p.m. and March 14th at 2 p.m. in the State Theatre in Bay City. The band Cairn to Cairn, keyboardist  Dan Sliwinski and guitarist/songwriter Jeff Yantz will join The Bijou Orchestra to rock the rafters. 

"This won't be the first time The Bijou plays rock music, of course, because rock is just one of the many styles we perform in," says Leo Najar, artistic director of The Bijou. "But this is the first time we are building a concert entirely around a rock theme. As a once-upon-a-time rock and blues musician, I'm no fan of  'classically' oriented groups trying to cross over to rock as a rule. I don't have any musical sympathy for symphonic recordings like The 101 Strings Play the Blues (seriously, they really did that!)," Najar says, adding, "Our concert won't feature 'original treatments' in the orchestral tradition. We won't be doing that, and we also won't be trying to recreate the performance styles of the different bands whose work we will feature."

What will Najar, the orchestra and guests do then? According to the director, they'll focus on songs that featured entire bands or parts of bands that brought "orchestral" instruments into their mix, such as the Beatles in "Yesterday," when the group added a string quartet to McCartney's solo guitar. Other pieces on the program include songs by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, Paul Simon, and Cindy Lauper, among others. "Another portion of the show will feature some of the orchestrally-influenced songs that have been popular (and yes, that includes a disco song from the 70s)," says Najar. "We will also feature Cairn to Cairn guitarist Terry Farmer in 'Classical Gas.'"

"This isn't going to look like a typical 'Bijou with guest artists' program," says Najar. "Cairn to Cairn and The Bijou will all share stage space together, and the appropriate instruments for each song will take their place as they are needed. This is exciting to me because it will create a big band of 17 musicians on stage for some things, and an intimate ensemble of 3 or 4 for others."

Two Bay City area musicians will join The Bijou to perform their songs. Dan "Swivel" Sliwinski will play keyboards on his song "Beginnings," which once served as a theme song for a local television program. Guitarist/harmonica player/songwriter Jeff Yantz, long a member of the band One Trick Ponies and currently playing with Scott Baker and the Universal Expressions, will play "Dreamer 29" in an original orchestration created for him and The Bijou.

The members of Cairn to Cairn will make their third appearance with The Bijou. Last year they performed on a Celtic concert (Emerald Isles), and they also were part of The Bijou's Bay City Fireworks performance. Guitarist Terry Farmer and bassist Rob Crozier were rock musicians before they started playing Celtic music, and The Bijou will call upon their skills to augment the resources of the orchestra, as well as play three of their own selections.

Tickets for the concert are $10, $20, $25 and $30. Ticket information is available at by calling the State Theatre Box Office at 989-892-2660 or online at Tickets will also be available at the door.

The concert is made possible in part through the sponsorship of Thelen Auto Group of Bay City and Standish. The orchestra is supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Midwest, the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Bay Area Community Foundation. Major corporate sponsors include Dow Corning and the Dow Chemical Company Foundation, with additional support from Bay Regional Medical Center.