Wayne Grima and Renald Bezzina have teamed up to give Guns ‘n Roses fans a real treat with a production called A Symphony to the Jungle, which will feature 20 of the greatest hits of the American band. The show, which will feature the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and other Maltese performers take place on February 17 at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, with tickets already online. I caught up with Wayne and Renald to find out more.
Can you share the inspiration behind creating A Symphony to the Jungle and choosing Guns N’ Roses for this orchestral adaptation? How was the idea born?
Wayne: The idea was born 15 years ago when Renald was doing a restoration course in Florence. The idea was then shelved until five years ago, when he approached me with the idea. This led to the creation of Raw Not War Entertainment, an acronym of our names.
How did you go about selecting the tracks to be included?
Renald: We each came up with a list of tracks and, together, we took the decision about which were likely to work better than others, taking into consideration a set-list which flows in harmony for a two-hour show.
What challenges did you face in acquiring the license for this event? Were there any particular conditions attached?
Wayne: The process was challenging and long, especially because Guns ‘n Roses have multiple publishers, and we did need the assistance of an intellectual property lawyer. At one point we were advised by the publisher not to play one single Guns ‘n Roses track until they give us authorisation to do so. This was a warning, as the band’s catalogue is a very complicated one.
And what other challenges come with organising this event?
Renald: One of the main challenges is the financial side. The show was made possible through the Rock N’ Malta Fund issued by Festivals Malta. Another challenge we can mention is the fact that in Malta we don’t have a lot of theatres with a stage big enough to accommodate a philharmonic orchestra to make financially viable to house a sizable audience.
What made you decide to collaborate with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra?
Renald: Wayne has scored music for the national orchestra on various occasions and enjoys a good rapport. The music score was evaluated for approval by the artistic board, and then the singers were picked – Mikaela Attard, Moira Stafrace, Kersten Graham, Yorika Attard and Andre Portelli.
What can the audience expect in terms of the visual experience during the concert?
Wayne: When designing the set-up our vision was to create the vibe that we find in big arena concerts. The audience can choose from seated and standing tickets. Every song will be accompanied by a visual projection on a big screen, and the stage will be equipped with full lighting set-up to enhance the mood of each song.
Are there any specific arrangements or songs in the concert that you are particularly excited for the audience to hear?
Wayne: This is a very tricky question as all the songs have something special. Having said so, my favourite track is This I Love, while Renald’s is November Rain, which he will be accompanying on the piano.