Jose Feliciano has written classical, symphonic pieces that have been performed publicly by many of the world’s greatest orchestras. His commitment to “serious” music can also be heard in the elaborate arrangements on many of his recordings as, over the years, he has strived to combine the richness of classical instruments with contemporary and/or computerized sounds for today’s music.
For over 30 years, Jose Feliciano has been a popular guest performer in many of the greatest symphony orchestras around the world. His reputation as a musician and soloist has given him the opportunity to play with many of the greatest classical musicians of our time. Many people, however, even ardent Feliciano Fans, are not aware of this side of Feliciano– the Symphonic Side.
Jose has appeared throughout North and South America, as well as Europe, Asia and Australia. He has performed with symphonies including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The London Symphony, The Boston Pops, The Dallas Symphony, The Vienna Symphony and countless other great orchestras in some of the most renowned symphonic halls in the world.
A Feliciano symphonic presentation will include a selection of his well-known pop songs, including “California Dreamin’,” “Light My Fire,” “Rain,” “It Was a Very Good Year,” “Let Me Try Again,” “Paso La Vida Pensando,” “Niña,” “Porque Te Tengo Que Olvidar?,” “Ay Cariño,” “Che Sera” and “Volveré Alguna Vez.”
Over the years, Feliciano has acquired a repertoire of semi-classical and classical pieces that he may include in a symphonic program, as well. They include “Classical Gas,” “Concierto de Aranjuez,” “Malagueña,” “Handel’s Firework’s Suite.” “La Entrada de Bilbao,” to name but a few.
Additionally, Jose Feliciano has also composed an array of guitar instrumental pieces that have been transcribed for his symphonic dates. They include such pieces as “Fireflight,” “Segovia (Written for the Master),” Angelito,” “Preludio Azteco.” “Pegao” and his now famous “Concierto de Paulinho” and “Mozartean Influence,” each of which are considered serious classical presentations.
The process by which Jose Feliciano is presented in a symphonic setting is facilitated by his conductor and musical director. He will, at times, also bring his basic rhythm section-bassist, pianist and drummer–to assist the ‘home’ orchestra and bring solidity to the arrangements chosen for the performance. Together they bring with Jose a sense of consistency to the program.
The entourage will usually arrive the day before the concert and the conductor will meet with the house conductor and/or concert master to go over the charts of the program which were pre-determined by he and Jose weeks prior to the event.
Usually that afternoon, or sometimes on the morning of the performance, the formal rehearsal will take place. The first half of the allotted time will consist of the conductor, musical director/pianist, and rhythm section going through the program with the symphony orchestra. Then Jose joins them for the second half, where he will rehearse with everyone, inserting his guitar solos, accompaniments and vocal parts. Any last moment questions or changes are discussed at that time and then they break until their curtain calls.
The Conductor. is the most vital arm of the operation. Generally, he will handle the music, work with the copyist and librarian who keep the charts in order, and coordinate with the artist (Jose!) with respect to choosing the program, its order in the show and the configuration of instrumentation.
For almost as long as Jose Feliciano has been performing in symphonic situations, he has been fortunate to work with one of the finest conductor/arrangers in the industry, Jimmie Haskell. First having been assigned to arrange and conduct for Jose’s first network television special for NBC in 1969, Jimmie has continued to write many of Jose’s most memorable record arrangements, as well as conduct for many of his symphonic dates around the world.
Jose: “I’ve worked with some of the greatest conductors and arrangers in the business, and I’m very grateful for that experience, but I have to say Jimmie and I work really well together. He’s great. He’s also made some music history, too–the arrangements of Bobby Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe”, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now”–and today, it seems everything from Sheryl Crow to Disney and back again!”
Jimmie: I first met Jose in 1969 to discuss the music for his T.V. special. He said “Jimmie, I know your work” and immediately played the intros to 5 hit records which I had arranged, and he made his guitar feel like the entire orchestra on those records.
It has been my pleasure to work with Jose many times since then, and I particularly enjoy conducting the orchestra for his symphony concerts. Jose always impresses me with his great musical ability, his fantastic guitar playing and singing, and his memory for details.
We have magical moments during our symphony concerts. Although we count off to each other to begin playing together, there are times during some of the classical selections where there are pauses and changes of tempo with no time for us to converse, The orchestra can see my baton at those moments while Jose must psychically feel the next entrance of music, and he always does. He’s awesome.”
The Guitar is the true focus of a Feliciano Symphonic Engagement. Jose’s dexterity interplays with his musicality and creates an awesome experience for the players on stage as well as the audience. Traditionally, some of Feliciano’s most ardent fans are themselves, musicians, and so very often it will be the members of the orchestra who take pleasure in the experience.
It’s clear to see that these special and select concerts are unique for it offers one an opportunity to see another side of Jose Feliciano; a more composed and serious performer among his peers.