Classical octet Barrage 8 stages unconventional, high-energy act |

Classical octet Barrage 8 stages unconventional, high-energy act

Candy Williams
Barrage 8 is five violins, a viola, cello and double bass.
Barrage 8 is five violins, a viola, cello and double bass.

It’s unlikely that a conventional orchestra program would pair the classical works of Bach and Beethoven with a rousing rendition of the folk tune “Turkey in the Straw” or a toe-tapping version of “Classical Gas.”

But since Barrage 8 is hardly considered a conventional orchestra, executive producer Tony Moore says nothing’s off-limits when it comes to blending innovative sounds from all musical genres in a high-energy concert performance.

Moore, along with John Crozman and Dean Marshall, are the creative forces behind Barrage 8 and its predecessor, Barrage. The reinvented version of their original string ensemble will perform April 27 at Greensburg’s Palace Theatre.

Barrage was based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada — Moore’s hometown — from 1996 to 2012, consisting of seven violinists and backup guitars, drums and percussion musicians. Performances featured physical choreography and music ranging from Celtic and calypso to bluegrass, jazz, rock and pop.

“It was classical kids playing alternative music,” Moore says. “The idea really took off.”

After producing several albums and performing about 3,000 shows in 27 countries, Barrage was relaunched at the end of 2015 as Barrage 8, a string octet consisting of a modern string family — five violins, a viola, cello and double bass.

“This year, we decided to go back to our roots with a classical octet that Mendelssohn would have used,” Moore says. The new sound is enhanced by elaborate choreography, LED screens, lights and choral vocalizations by the musicians.

Moore says Barrage 8 audiences are treated to a variety of music in the concerts, “everything from Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’ to Gabriel Fauré’s ‘Pavane.’ It’s a lot of fun, and it really is something for all ages.”

The performers audition for Barrage 8 after graduating from college master’s degree programs in musical performance and stay with the company for up to two years before moving on to other endeavors. Members typically range in age from 23 to 26.

The current group of musicians has performed in Holland, Belgium, the United States and Canada. Next year’s schedule will include concerts in Central America, Europe and Asia.

The producer already is looking ahead to 2018, when he says plans are under way for Barrage 8 to head in another new direction, launching a symphonic program to be performed with an 80-piece orchestra, while incorporating its signature video and LED technology.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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