Review of Serj Tankian concert in Rome

Wanted in Rome reader and music industry insider Victoria Wyatt describes her experience at the Serj Tankian concert at Rome's Auditorium on 5 October.

On Saturday night a strange sight was seen in Rome as metalheads and rockers, mostly System of a Down fans, converged on the city's most beautiful concert hall at Auditorium Parco della Musica to see the lead singer Serj Tankian in his latest role as composer.

Tankian is one of the music industry's most diverse and prolific artists. He not only fronts the recently reformed alternative metal band System of a Down, but has written a musical, released a jazz album, works with his non-profit organisation Axis of Justice (co-founded with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine) and has now completed his first ever full length symphony.

The evening combined his new symphony Orca, with tracks from his first symphonic stylings Elect the Dead Symphony, which he brought to Rome three years ago. Tankian told the audience that Orca was inspired by music from his favourite film composer, Italian Ennio Morricone, and it did indeed have a distinct sound which would fit perfectly on the big screen. Orca is a metaphor for humanity… structured into four acts that were composed using "non-traditional approaches to classical music", according to Tankian.

He praised the Auditorium for its acoustics, and purposefully dropped several Italian references, dedicating Lie Lie Lie to the Italian government, and following with “This next song is also about Italian politics and it’s called Money”, with a less than complimentary salute to Silvio Berlusconi which received a resounding applause.

Tankian uses his music and position to promote world issues such as the recognition of genocides and social justice, overpopulation, environmentalism, animal rights and protection, the war on terror and the American prison system. Every song and symphony is a message. Metalheads and rockers listened to 34 minutes of pure orchestral music, and the other hour and a half was Tankian's note-perfect unfaltering voice enhanced by the power of the 50 member Philharmonic Orchestra orchestra.

Victoria Wyatt