k.d. lang & her big band

Torch singer to perform with different musicians nightly

With local symphony orchestras booked in about 30 U.S. cities, k.d. lang will embark on her first symphonic tour April 30 in Houston.

Lang’s next Warner Bros. album, an homage to Canadian songwriters tentatively titled “Hymns of the 49th Parallel,” is not currently on Warner’s schedule, but management is projecting a May release. Unlike the tour, the album is not orchestrally based.

Lang has become closely associated with the Great American Songbook through her association with Tony Bennett and her torch singing, which gently nudged aside her country roots. This, however, is a behemoth of an undertaking, from the additional three hours of rehearsal before each concert to the nuances of working with a different set of musicians every night.

Idea was hatched early last year, and reps from lang’s management team, Direct Management, attended the annual confab of symphonies in June intent on pitching the idea. They received zero business.

Rather than going through a symphony agent, Monterey Peninsula Artist’s Fred Bohlander and Direct’s Steve Jensen created a leaflet and started pitching individual symphonies one by one, which got the phone ringing. Houston came on board first and facilitated relationships in Detroit, Toronto and elsewhere, getting the opening- night booking as a thank-you.

While performers often are seen at summer sheds in front of orchestras, building tours by contracting each symphony separately can be an arduous task. Brian Wilson’s “Pet Sounds Symphony” tour began with a single date — last September in L.A. — and then routed backwards.

Lang’s regular quartet will back her as well as the symphonies. Orchestrations are being written by Eumir Deodato, and Direct is looking to hire a conductor who would work the entire tour.

Lang, whose last album was a collection of duets with Bennett, will perform June 19 at Carnegie Hall with the Brooklyn Symphony and July 30-31 at the Hollywood Bowl with the L.A. Philharmonic. In some cities, such as Portland, Ore., and Seattle, the promoters are assembling symphonies.

Jensen said they are carefully selecting additional cities — Nashville was booked this week — based on the symphony orchestras. The tour is expected to extend into 2005 and include dates worldwide.

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