5 Questions for John Kelley | Ashwaubenon PAC | Green Bay

5 Questions for John Kelley

Boasting enough musical styles to stuff Santa’s sleigh, John Kelley and the Fusion Xpress Orchestra (FXO) is set to play the Ashwaubenon PAC on Thursday, December 19 at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by Rodac Development and ConstructionA Not So Silent Night is part of the PAC’s Kroll’s West Local Series, which showcases some of the prominent talents found right here in Northeast Wisconsin.

FXO is an 11-piece ensemble, based in Green Bay, poised to deliver a holiday hybrid of classical, rock, jazz, musical theater and Christmas-season favorites. Its members describe music as being a universal language which knows no boundaries and cite “all life experiences” as an influence in their repertoire. FXO has developed a fan following by combining beautiful musicianship and the hard work of a rigorous local touring schedule.

In advance of the holiday show, we asked John Kelley a few questions.


Q: When did you first become interested in fusing musical styles and genres, and was there something particular from which you drew the inspiration?
I first became interested in fusing styles in the 1980s but wasn’t sure how to approach it since it wasn’t commonly done. When I was Executive Director of a Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s, the Moody Blues contacted me to have the Orchestra back them up….that was it…I was hooked, and from the point on, have never looked back.

Q: What is the most common misconception people have about FXO before experiencing a performance?
A: The biggest misconception about the violin and FXO is that people think every piece of music we play will be relaxing, reflective….SURPRISE our music is an eclectic blend and intense fusion of Holiday, Classical, Jazz, Rock and Musical Theater. They soon find out that yes…some of our music is relaxing but the majority is intense…big…and fun.

Q: Name one musical composition or song that really moves you or holds special significance. Why?
A: The one musical piece that holds significant value for me is Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.” That is the first piece that FXO performed. Instead of one tenor singing this famous aria…I wanted two to perform this. Rock tenor meets Classical tenor…it was the first piece that we incorporated Rock into the Classical world, and it was instantly accepted, and audiences love it…and so do I.

Q: How do you balance playing compositions the audience expects with keeping your orchestra’s musicians artistically challenged?
A: I don’t worry about finding balance. I am constantly challenging the group with new material while maintaining a few of our classics that are expected. I keep it fresh with our music and friends and fans appreciate and value that.

Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals or superstitions you’d like to share?
A: We don’t really have any pre-show rituals. Although, I often look at the soloists on stage…live and jokingly say… “don’t mess it up”…yikes!!!


Tickets to A Not So Silent Night are $25, with subscriber and group discounts available. To purchase tickets or learn more about this or other upcoming events, visit ashwaubenonpac.org or call (920) 494-3401.

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