Exposé Online banner

Nolan Stolz Rock Orchestra — Nolan Stolz Rock Orchestra
(Tributary TNRO-12, 2017, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-04-23

Nolan Stolz Rock Orchestra Cover art

Dr. Nolan Stolz is a music educator, an assistant professor of music at the University of South Carolina Upstate, where he teaches courses in theory, composition, popular music studies, and drum set. The idea of the Nolan Stolz Rock Orchestra was born way back in 1999, first taking shape as a concept and project with members far and wide across the USA, and now, finally with the release of this album, a performing unit has been established in North Carolina to play the music on this disc live, and presumably any further recordings. The music on this release developed over a period of 18 years with a variety of different musicians that were available when each piece was arranged and produced, most from a group of musical associations made during Stolz’ time in Las Vegas, where he was a member of the band Art Rock Circus. Stolz is a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, drums, keyboards, bass, guitar and on several of the pieces here he plays all the instruments, though on many he has one or more additional players playing instruments that are outside the standard rock idiom (trumpet, cello, flute, clarinet, saxophone, and on the final cut, vocals).

How better to open with than a seven minute abridged take on Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” where Stolz is joined by Richard Forrester on guitar and Gale Winds on flute. On this, and on most of the other classics that Stolz arranges here, one has to believe that his are more respectful of the composer’s original intent, rather than playing fast and loose with the pieces (for example, ELPs Pictures at an Exhibition, or Dave Edmunds shredding Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance”) and thus the listener can expect something at least a bit closer to the composer’s vision in spirit. Second up is “Introduction and Variations on a 12-Tone Row” by Schoenberg, where Stolz plays all of the parts, which ends up sounding a bit more like a jazz improv than a string quartet. Continuing, a beautiful version of Ives’ “Unanswered Question” mostly for multi-layered keyboards and drums is up next, followed by an outstanding fifteen minute take on Ravel’s “Bolero,” with additional players on cello, flute, clarinet, and tenor sax, it stands strong as the album’s centerpiece. “Diversions for Four” takes Erb’s “Diversions for Two” and adds additional parts written by Stolz, featuring trumpet plus the members of Art Rock Circus on guitar and bass, with Stolz playing drums. Also featured are excerpts from Symphony No. 31 by Scriabin and Symphony No. 61 by Mahler, closing with “The Erlking” by Schubert, with the vocal parts (words by Goethe) sung in German. All taken, this is an ambitious endeavor, but most (excepting the classical purists among us) will probably agree that Stolz has successfully bridged the worlds of classical and rock, perhaps leaning slightly more toward the former.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Nolan Stolz Rock Orchestra

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Body Full of Stars - Falling Angels – Mark Dunn seems like quite a colorful guy. The leader and main songwriter for English group Body Full of Stars writes spirited Afro- and British pop and has a vocal delivery full of English wit and...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues