“There seems to be a hierarchy, which you think exists, where the symphony is the great thing and then the rockers are the dumb ones, but it’s not that simple and they each have something to offer the other,” Folds said.
Host Chris Wallace said Folds is all about breaking down musical barriers between pop and classical, noting that as artistic adviser to the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., his late-night sold-out declassified concerts “are the platform for his special mix.”
“It’s about unformalizing the symphony orchestra in a way that doesn’t intimidate people,” Folds said. “People go to the symphony and they think, ‘How do I dress? I don’t even know.’ So we make it informal in a way for them to feel comfortable to be there.”
“We’ve sold out every show we’ve done here,” he continued. “People have walked away with a Spotify playlist of classical music, which we can see that they are listening to.”
Wallace said that Folds admitted that forging a union between classical and rock music can be an uneasy balance.
“Orchestral musicians are demoralized by loud music that covers up what they normally do, they’re having to do a dumbed down version of it,” Folds said. “The rocker goes out thinking ‘Wow that wasn’t loud enough, I didn’t feel it.’”
Wallace noted that Folds has been blending musical genres since the 1990s when he started the piano-rock band Ben Folds Five, which hit at the charts with a song called “Brick.”
In his new memoir called “A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons,” Folds writes stories of his childhood before starting Ben Folds Five and discloses his creative process.
The title of the memoir refers to a childhood dream where he spread joy by catching lightning bugs for others.
“As an artist, what I do is I capture the thing that I see, the thing that interests me. My job is putting that idea in a bottle, which I have taken my whole life to do and to share that with other people,” Folds said.
Folds is also an advocate for music education, Wallace said, adding that his next project is focused on writing songs with children.