Dead Symphony

Dead Overture mvt I
Saint Stephen mvt II (Hunter, Garcia, Lesh)
Here Comes Sunshine mvt III (Hunter, Garcia)
Mountains of the Moon mvt IV (Hunter, Garcia)
Blues for Allah mvt V (Hunter, Garcia)
Sugar Magnolia mvt VI (Hunter, Weir)
To Lay Me Down mvt VII (Hunter, Garcia)
If I Had the World to Give mvt VIII (Hunter, Garcia)
Stella Blue mvt IX (Hunter, Garcia)
Bird Song mvt X (Hunter, Garcia)
China Doll mvt XI (Hunter, Garcia)
Dead Finale mvt XII
Lee Johnson, composer and conductor
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[A] sense of fun and exploration is present at the outset of the project as the symphony’s overture dabbles in “Funiculi Funicala,” a happy little melody the Dead itself would noodle on to tune up. From there, Johnson and the orchestra fused and forged various eras of Dead music into a cohesive whole, meshing the medieval underpinnings of “St. Stephen” with the Eastern strains of “Blues for Allah.” The orchestra gives in to the bounce of “Sugar Magnolia,” and under Johnson’s direction reveals what a truly great song the often-overlooked “If I Had the World to Give” is.

Glide Magazine

Even a Deadhead has to agree on one thing: [the RNO] brings out the melodic beauty of most of these songs in a very real hear this music in this ornate fashion may entice the uninitiated to start moving down the golden road to unlimited devotion and investigate the real thing, which will make what seems like a sketchy prospect all the more worthwhile.

Rather than merely being straight orchestral transcriptions of famous pop tunes... Johnson has used ten Grateful Dead songs (dubbed “movements”) as jumping-off points for an imaginative and emotional journey through both obvious and suggested melodies, harmonies and motifs in the various tunes.... It’s all fascinating and expertly performed by the Russian National Symphony, with whom Johnson has worked on other symphonic works the last few years.

What They’re Saying

"[The] American-Russian Festival Orchestra, featuring distinguished players from the Russian National Orchestra and a number of prominent American orchestras...[conveys] a vital message to our participants and observers, that by working together we can share our musical and historical cultures and increase our understanding of one another."

Athena T. Blackburn

Founding board member, Festival Napa Valley