Christian recording artist/singer/songwriter Steve Bell appeared with his band, as well as the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra at Centre Street Church on October 5, 2007. Bell himself is a remarkably accomplished vocalist, musician and instrumentalist, and the musicianship displayed by the band was likewise of the same caliber.
It almost seems too obvious to mention, but what made this night particularly special was the presence of the orchestra. This came about rather organically; Bell was approached earlier in the year by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra to do a joint concert. Subsequently, Bell went on to perform with them, record a CD with them, and is currently taking this unique experience to different cities.
The most amazing thing about the orchestra was that they blended together delightfully with Bell’s music. It was as if the orchestra always belonged, and never hampered his style once. Concurrently, the added accompaniment was greatly appreciated by audiences.
Pianist Mike Janzen was responsible for arranging the music for the orchestra, and interestingly, Bell himself was amazed at his talents, blissfully unaware that he was such a capable arranger in addition to being an accomplished piano player. Janzen definitely got his moment in the spotlight on this special night.
The set list was also thoughtfully arranged. The 12 song repertoire (with two encore numbers at the end) was bridged by an intermission, and the music was incredible and pleasantly varied. Bell effectively set the tone with his trademark narrative style for the songs in the second set, engaging and encouraging attendees to take a serious look at their own lives; especially with regards to our wasteful nature. He brought attention to the great needs that are felt in Ethiopia (Bell and his wife made a trip earlier in the year) as well. One could almost say that the music is really the backdrop to Bell’s highly regarded storytelling.
It’s difficult to single out any particular moment of the concert as being the highlight, but suffice to say, it was a glorious event. If you are already aware of Steve Bell but you’ve never had the chance to see him perform, he is an artist that should be experienced live; at least once. His recording career has been prolific and illustrious, but you aren’t getting the whole picture unless you see the spectacle that is his live concert; especially with the added embellishment of an orchestra. Future tours may not feature the added accompaniment, so this is a good time to take advantage.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.