Labra Brothers Will Get Orchestral with Canton Symphony

CANTON, Ohio – The first thing that comes to mind when you hear “The Labra Brothers” is probably not “symphony orchestra.”

The Youngstown rock band has a rhythm-heavy sound that grooves and jams with a Latin American flair.

But on Saturday, Nov. 4, the Labras will join the list of regional rock acts to perform with the backing of the Canton Symphony Orchestra. The concert, which is in partnership with the Canton Latino Festival, starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Canton Palace Theatre.

The CSO’s collaborations with regional rock bands is an honor that it has bestowed on just a handful of bands. Earlier this year, Youngstown’s The Vindys performed with the orchestra.

The Labra Brothers will mark another milestone this weekend.

On Friday, the band will release its new album, “Home.” Songs from the new release will be incorporated into the concert with the CSO, according to Adrian Labra, singer and guitarist for the band.

“We’ll be debuting some of those new songs live for the first time, and with the backing of a full orchestra,” he said.

Labra said he’s feeling a mix of excitement and anticipation for the new release and its intertwining with the CSO concert.

“The timing of it and this unique collaboration felt perfectly appropriate,” he said.

Dressing up a rock band’s sound with symphonic instrumentation requires careful arrangements.

The band comes first and foremost, said Todd Maki, who handled the arrangements. The orchestra’s role is simply to make the songs full and lush without changing their style.

The Youngstown-based Maki is a composer and music producer who has written scores for many local and national movies and television screenplays and commercials through his company, Legacy Scoring Orchestra.

He is also the producer of all Labra albums, and the band made sure he was in charge of arranging the orchestral parts for the CSO concert.

Maki likens the task to “adding flavors to a dish that’s already been cooked.” The guiding philosophy is to have a light touch and know where to add the embellishments.

“If the band is playing in F major, then have the orchestra playing in F major alongside them,” he said, as an example.

“It’s tricky to find out where to put things, and that’s where my job comes in,” he said.

The band members were concerned that their music would not be challenging enough for an orchestra, but Maki said that is not a matter of concern.

“My interest is only, ‘Does the music work?’” he said. “I’m not concerned with the orchestra. Even in a score by John Williams, there are memorable themes that are not complex. If it feels just right, then you don’t have to worry about it.”

One aspect of the Labras’ music that does pose a challenge is the band’s heavy use of percussion, which includes conga solos.

“It’s hard to figure out what the percussion section [of the orchestra] can do without complicating the music,” Maki said. “I’m planning around that.”

Labra said the band will not compromise on its percussive aspect for the concert.

“Percussion is a huge part of our instrumentation in most of our songs,” he said. “We don’t plan on changing that in any way for this show.”

Antonio Labra, the youngest of the four brothers in the band, will play bongos, the conga and other Latin percussion as usual. In fact, some special feature moments, crafted expressly for Saturday’s concert, will be added.

“We expect it will fit in nicely with the orchestra accompaniment, which we’re expecting to lift up our music to new heights,” Labra said.

To tie the performance into the Latino Festival, folk dancers will make appearances on stage several times during the show.

Guest artists, some of whom appear on the upcoming album, will also be featured.

It’s safe to say The Labras pulled out all the stops to make the show special and unique. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and they are treating it as such.

“I can’t stress this enough – we have never played a show like this one before, with such a robust production plan and with so many great musicians taking part,” Labra said.

Ticket prices for Saturday’s concert are $55, $40 and $25. To purchase, call 330 452 2094 or click HERE.

The Labra Brothers have three other Ohio appearances through the end of the year. They will open for The Huntertones on Dec. 8 at Beachland Tavern in Cleveland; and for Red Wanting Blue on Dec. 29 at Kent Stage in Kent, and Dec. 30 at The Bluestone in Columbus.

Pictured at top: The Labra Brothers are Danny Svenson, Cristian Labra, Adrian Labra, David Labra, Matt Hayes and Antonio Labra.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.