Asphalt Orchestra brings music to the masses


By Olivia Elliot

As you walk across campus on Nov. 4, be on the lookout for a marching band emerging from the bushes and bursting into song.
It’s not something you see every day, but Asphalt Orchestra, a 12-piece marching band, does this quite often, surprising crowds with their energetic flash performances.
“They’re very unique,” explained Mary Chapin Durling, director of Cultural Affairs at Fitchburg State.
Most of the band’s music career has taken place in locations outside of concert halls, such as busy city streets.
“All of a sudden they come out of the subway and there they are playing. They want the art to happen to the people, instead of the people choosing to have the art happen to them,” Durling said about their unique approach to performing.
When Asphalt Orchestra executes a flash performance right here on Fitchburg State University’s campus, it will be impossible to miss. Not only will their loud, cutting-edge music catch your attention, but their outfits will as well.
Durling describes those outfits as costumes. “They don’t wear regular street clothes but they don’t dress in uniform either,’ she said. “They had someone come in and design what they wear.”
In addition to the flash performance, they will give a concert at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4 in Weston Auditorium.
Members of Asphalt Orchestra may play the traditional instruments of a marching band, but they definitely don’t perform like one.
Their music is elaborately choreographed, and surprising. “She stood on a chair and she stood on the arms of the chair,” Durling said about the female piccolo player in one of the performances she saw in New York City.
“Their musicianship is extraordinary,” Durling said.
During the performance in Weston Auditorium, the band will play music by Frank Zappa, Bjork, Yoko Ono, and even new music that members of the band have written themselves.
“I thought this would be very intriguing and provocative, but very accessible,” Durling said about her decision to bring the Asphalt Orchestra to FSU. “It’s important to bring something that people usually don’t get to see.”
For those who want a sample of their music before the performance in Weston, the band will also be playing at First Thursday in downtown Fitchburg on Nov. 3. That performance will take place on Main Street at 5:30 p.m.
Durling said she hopes the music will have a big impact on both community members and students.
“We know that art transforms us,” she said. “Art is an essential part of one’s life.”
The Weston performance is co-sponsored by WICN Radio, with additional funding from the New England Foundation for the Arts.
Tickets cost $7 for students; $22 for faculty and staff; $25 for the general public. To reach the box office, call 978- 665-3347.