Ignace "Iggy" Jang

Symphony jams
with James Ingram

Santana, Sting and Janet Jackson exposed as melody plagiarizers! Now that I have your attention ...

It turns out Santana was influenced by musical themes from Brahms, Sting by Prokofiev and just recently, Janet Jackson in "Someone to Call My Lover" was influenced by music from the post-Romantic French composer Erik Satie.

James Ingram

Performs with the Honolulu Symphony, opening the Pops series

In concert: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Tickets: $25, $35, $45, $55 and $70
Call: 792-2000

Many pop tunes come from classical music, and many classical composers have sampled from others without giving them suitable credit.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you may be surprised to find me writing about jazz, rhythm & blues and popular music.

I usually write about the thrills of performing classical music, but this weekend, the music I'll be performing with my Honolulu Symphony colleagues will be as different as the clothes we'll be wearing. Off with the tuxedos, on with the aloha shirts! The premiere of this year's Pops Season Friday will also star James Ingram and the Honolulu Jazz Quartet, led by Matt Catingub.

Seven times a year, the Honolulu Symphony changes its style and invites contemporary music stars to perform with the orchestra. From jazz superstar Diana Krall to the rock band TOTO, the symphony's Pops series allows musicians to perform in a different setting, with a totally different sound.

Let's take this weekend, for example. Ingram is one of contemporary music's premier artists. If you don't recognize his name, you might recognize his songs such as "I Don't Have the Heart" and "Whatever We Imagine," as well as the funky "Baby Come to Me," "Somewhere Out There" with Linda Rondstadt and "When You Love Someone" with Anita Baker. He'll be singing these songs with the Honolulu Symphony as his backup band.

ON A PERSONAL note, I once danced to "Baby Come to Me" while on a date. While the romance was short-lived, the tune has stayed with me. And, that is the main reason why the Honolulu Symphony devotes a series to stars such as Ingram, who is an amazing musician -- a gifted singer, songwriter, arranger and performer. Even though his style differs from mine, we share the bond of wanting to move people through music.

Making this mixture of popular music and the symphony work is our leader, Matt Catingub. His ability to arrange music has become a trademark of the Honolulu Symphony Pops. For this weekend's performance, Matt will produce new charts (new music) for many of the instruments.

What's the difference between arranging and writing music? Composers write an original melody that no one else has written before. An arranger can tweak existing material, change the instrumen- tation or embellish the harmonies and rhythms. Matt does both.

Matt will only have Ingram's CDs to guide him as he writes. To produce charts, he listens to each song and figures out how everything can be expanded to a symphonic format. He considers such elements as which instruments to use for each tune, where we new rhythms are needed and where to add additional melodic lines. What amazes me is that he is able to do all this by ear.

Matt is also creating charts for the Honolulu Jazz Quartet's first-ever performance with a symphony. I heard them perform songs from their latest CD "Sounds of the City" recently and they entertained us with cool, creative numbers all night long. Get ready to hear nostalgic bossa novas, uplifting swing tunes, head-shaking straight-ahead jazz, tropical blues and more.

Come concert time, don't be surprised to hear Matt sing and improvise on the saxophone or piano; it's all part of the magic of the Pops. I promise that you'll be snapping your fingers to the beat of this musical jam session.

P.S. If you know of other classical inspirations on pop music, email me at I might print your find next week.

Ignace "Iggy" Jang is the Honolulu Symphony's concertmaster. His column will appear on the Monday prior to each concert of the season to illuminate works to be performed. E-mail comments and questions to Jang at


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