Two common themes in the world of music annoy me. The first one being many artists that were prominent in the 1980’s being shrugged off as “all image and little talent”, and the second being the “rock band goes orchestral”.
As to the first point, while the hard rock genre had indeed become derivative by the end of the eighties, many of the individual players had impressive instrumental chops. In a post-Van Halen world, you basically had to be technically proficient to even call yourself a rock musician.
To address my dislike of the second theme, I find fault with the bands themselves. The tedious trend that surfaced of bands playing with an orchestra and going “classical”. First of all, I am not an expert on classical music, but I can tell you that slapping a third chair string section on top of your I, IV, V blues progression in 4/4 time doesn’t make it classical music.
So as not to come across as all negative, I want to spotlight an amazing musician who conquered the rock scene and also put in the work to become a legitimate classical composer. Kip Winger, to those who were really listening and absorbing, always wrote complex rock songs that at times flirted with a progressive element. The fact that the members of the band Winger were all virtuosos didn’t hurt either. Winger continues to put out quality albums, with some of the strongest material being recorded in recent years. Kip himself, decided to take the diminishing prominence of hard rock as an opportunity to devote years of study into classical composition. He even studied with noted composer Richard Danielpour.
His first piece “Ghosts”, is written for strings, piano, and harp. It is a moving piece with an excellent sense of contrasting dynamics. His next project, Conversations with Nijinsky was recorded by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and not only reached the top of the Billboard charts, it was nominated for a Grammy. Billed as C.F. Kip Winger, he has already proved himself one of the most diverse and deeply talented individuals in music. Period.