Performance » Music

Celebrating Music of the Mad Men Era

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Over the course of his music career, New York City's Steven Reineke has worked with a wide variety of acclaimed artists, including everyone from folk singer-songwriter Alison Krauss to hip-hop legend Nas. But at the end of the day, the sought-after conductor, composer and arranger ultimately ties all of these extraordinary opportunities back to his longtime love for symphonic pops music.

"We [symphonic pops artists] can do everything from classical music to Broadway. Film music, big band, jazz, Great American Songbook," says the music director and conductor of the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States, The New York Pops. "Honestly, the possibilities are endless."

A frequent guest conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Steven Reineke has been on the podium with the Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. - COURTESY OF PETER THOM MANAGEMENT
  • Courtesy of Peter Thom Management
  • A frequent guest conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Steven Reineke has been on the podium with the Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia.

Continuing down this path, this Friday and Saturday (May 29th and 30th) Reineke will bring his Music of the Mad Men Era concert to Indianapolis, leading the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra through two performances of his program that features the Top 40 hits of the early 1960s.

At these concerts, a pair of dazzling guest vocalists (Ryan Silverman and Janet Dacal) will join Reineke and the ISO on stage, giving audiences a taste of the sophisticated '60s sound.

Back in 2011, The New York Pops initially debuted Reineke's show at Carnegie Hall, with help from guest vocalist Cheyenne Jackson (star of Broadway, 30 Rock and Glee). It was this performance that "got the ball rolling" with the Mad Men-themed concerts, according to Reineke.

After its initial success, the conductor eventually decided to take his show on the road, performing it with various symphonies around the country while also finding new vocalists to fill the role of a rather busy Jackson.

Despite its title, though, the concert is not exclusively about Mad Men,according to Reineke. Instead, its intent is to take listeners back to the era portrayed in the TV show, with songs such as Moondance, Luck Bea Lady, Sway, and more. The conductor explains, "When you listen to any of these songs, you just immediately know what era it's from. Like, 'Oh God, that sounds so '60s.' I mean, you can see style or architecture or interior design of a house, and you know that it's very '60s. You hear this music, and you know that it's from that era."

Nevertheless, diehard Mad Men fans will recognize a suite of music from Reineke's concert, too, which actually touches on pieces of the TV show's original soundtrack.

"I really loved the background music when I was watching the show. Not the songs that they would play that already existed, but the original music that was written," Reineke says. "So I called up the composer in Hollywood (David Carbonara), and I asked him if he would put together a suite of music from his favorite stuff that he ever wrote for Mad Men. He did, so we feature the orchestra in this lengthy Mad Men suite, which is pretty cool."

Vocalists Ryan Silverman and Janet Dacal have performed in numerous Broadway productions. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JANET DACAL
  • Photo Courtesy of Janet Dacal
  • Vocalists Ryan Silverman and Janet Dacal have performed in numerous Broadway productions.

Dacal believes that regardless of their age, the audience will be taken back to the '60s when listening to the Music of the Mad Men Era numbers.

"I think the music will speak for itself, and people will be pleasantly surprised at how connected they are to that time without even knowing it," she says. "It's a really sexy, fun show, and it lets you reminisce while also staying in the present time."

Dacal says that performing these hits is empowering as a woman. "At the time in history that this music [was popular], woman were sort of in a revolutionary state -- coming out of being in the home and taking things on for themselves in society. So to be the representative of that as a woman is just really exciting."

Having conducted the ISO many times in past years, Reineke is also anticipating his return trip to the city. "I'm mostly looking forward to being back amongst friends with this incredible orchestra," he says. So when it comes to his concert's intended effect, he really just hopes that audiences can leave the Hilbert Circle Theatre with an even greater appreciation for all that the ISO does.

"Indianapolis has a real treasure with this fantastic orchestra," Reineke concludes. "So I want them to come away thinking, 'God, that was so much fun, and holy smokes that orchestra is fantastic. I can't wait to go back for more.'"

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