Music News

RZA, Nathaniel Rateliff, Mary-Mitchell Campbell Team With Colorado Symphony

Brandon Johnson
Nathaniel Rateliff joins the Imagination Artist Series.
For the first time, the Colorado Symphony is giving three diverse musical artists full access to the orchestra to create three unique programs that will debut exclusively with the symphony in its 2022-23 season. And it's hard to think of a more star-powered lineup for the first launch of the Imagination Artist Series than one that includes rapper RZA of Wu-Tang Clan fame, Broadway mainstay Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Denver's own Nathaniel Rateliff of Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

Along with their exclusive programming, the Imagination Series artists will act as brand ambassadors for the symphony and support its community education efforts.

RZA returns to the symphony after sold-out performances with Wu-Tang Clan and the orchestra at Red Rocks and the Mission Ballroom last August. In May, he'll play the Colorado Symphony’s Imagination Gala at Mission Ballroom, the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year.

“When you get a chance to hear your music translated by an orchestra, it’s so fulfilling,” RZA says. “The vibration of it, the feel of it. As musicians, we strive to inspire and give inspiration. If you can move somebody and let their imagination explore and explode, I think that’s what we have the chance to do here.”

Rateliff, who sold out Red Rocks with his band last year and is slated to perform at the iconic venue again this summer, released his third album with the Night Sweats last October.

“Hearing the symphony, it’s hard not to react to it, especially when you’re performing with them,” Rateliff says. “I’ve always felt like music does this thing where it takes your breath away. When you hear that many people playing together, it does something that you can feel.”

While the specific programming by both RZA and Rateliff will be revealed at a later date, the symphony has announced that Campbell will kick off the Imagination Artist Series with a tribute to Stephen Sondheim on September 23 and 24, which will include tunes from Sondheim's famous works A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods.

“What I love about this orchestra is how passionate they are about making all kinds of music and recognizing that every genre has a place in the concert hall,” says Campbell, who has been the music director for Broadway hits such as Mean Girls, Sweeney Todd, The Prom and Tuck Everlasting.

To learn more about the Colorado Symphony, visit its website.