Magik*Magik Orchestra celebrates fifth birthday with benefit show 

click to enlarge Magik*Magik Orchestra
  • Magik*Magik Orchestra — headed by Minna Choi, second from left — will headline a benefit concert Friday.
For five years, Magik*Magik Orchestra has played the role of sidekick to artists from San Francisco’s The Dodos to singer-songwriter John Vanderslice to Sting.

On Friday, the Bay Area’s leading independent, made-to-order symphony orchestra finally takes the lead in “When We Were Young,” a five-year anniversary show and benefit for children’s music education at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

“This is the first time where it’s ‘Magik*Magik featuring X, Y, Z,’ and not the other way around,” says Minna Choi, Magik*Magik’s founder, artistic director and conductor. The orchestra will be joined in concert by the Dodos, Vanderslice, Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, Geographer, Rogue Wave, Two Gallants and more.

“We feel like the community of bands and the relationships we’ve forged over the past five years [are] on board with the vision that we’re casting. It feels like there are a lot of people rooting you on,” Choi says.

The concert also presents a welcome opportunity to play again with great musicians, Choi says. “A lot of work goes into these collaborative efforts, and a lot of times, we play it once and then they’re never really played again. I’ve always thought that was kind of a shame.”

Choi created Magik*Magik in 2008 thinking it would simply be classical musicians backing rockers in the studio. But it became a live group after she was asked to supply orchestral support for a concert of music by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood the night before Radiohead played the first Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.

Since then, the orchestra — a rotating cast of musicians — has worked with Death Cab For Cutie and Nick Cave; recorded the score for the Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt film “Looper”; written music for a video game; and supported artists on national tours.

At Friday’s show, guests will play their favorite childhood songs. It’s an appropriate theme for the fundraiser for Magik for Kids, a hands-on program in which orchestra members introduce local children to musical instruments, composition and conducting.

“It’s our fifth birthday, and a lot of the kids we work with are 5, 6 years old,” Choi says. “One of our goals ... is to have that program be really active. In order to do that, we have to raise some money.”


When We Were Young

With Magik*Magik Orchestra, The Dodos, Geographer, Rogue Wave and more

Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $29.50 to $150

Contact: (800) 745-3000,

About The Author

Roman Gokhman

Roman Gokhman

Roman Gokhman has been writing about the music scene in the Bay Area since 2006, with a focus on indie rock, world music and the local scene. He's also seen U2 live more than 50 times and expects to add to that total in 2014, if their next album finally comes out.
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