Soul Meets Symphony in Greeley, Colorado

What do a sweaty-soul band and century-old symphony orchestra have in common? In terms of music, they live on opposite ends of the spectrum. One group thrives on improvisation – the other excels within the lines of a musical score. But what the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra (GPO) and The Burroughs have in common is their passion for music, outstanding performances, and stories that begin in Greeley, Colorado.

Greeley has a rich heritage of championing the arts and cultivating a spirit of creativity. As the oldest regional orchestra in the West, there is no better example of Greeley’s legacy in the arts than the GPO. Representing a new generation of Greeley’s musical heritage, The Burroughs have built the community into their DNA since their start in 2013, branding their sound as “Sweaty Greeley Soul.”

Together, they are uniting Greeley’s past and present for a one-of-a-kind performance – The Burroughs LIVE with the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra, taking place at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Union Colony Civic Center.

A Community Collaboration

Like all orchestras in the country, the GPO needed to adapt to a different world than the one it began in 100 years ago to preserve its tradition of stewarding the arts in Greeley. The orchestra has reinvented how it delivers a symphony experience to the public through tribute concerts and unique partnerships, largely due to the leadership of Nick Kenny, GPO executive director.

Nick’s passion for connecting Greeley artists inspired the idea for a joint performance with The Burroughs. Although the idea was put on hold after the performance shutdown due to COVID-19 in 2020, the conversation resumed as the GPO began to plan its return to the stage and the performance that would open the group’s 2021-22 season.

“With the Greeley Philharmonic coming back for the first time in 18 months, I wanted it to be impactful,” Nick said. “If we’re coming back, let’s come back with a bang.”

After both groups agreed to a collaborative performance, The Burroughs’ manager and saxophonist, Briana Harris; drummer, Mary Claxton; and lead singer Johnny Burroughs, began piecing together a setlist that would showcase the strengths of both groups and take audiences on an emotional journey. The setlist pulls in music from every recording in The Burroughs’ catalog, with new releases and even a few surprises.

“For me, the challenge and fun of dreaming up how an orchestra can move with our music was an incredible experience,” said Johnny.

Translating a Musical Language

Once the setlist was formed, the next challenge was taking The Burroughs’ contemporary, pop music and translating it into an orchestral score. Through an enormous team effort that involved internal work and outsourcing their music to orchestral arrangers, The Burroughs developed an original book of music for an orchestral performance of their most popular songs.

A few exciting reveals fans can look forward to include an original opening overture, created by GPO’s new composer in residence, Dylan Fixmer, and the new arrangement of The Burroughs’ recent release “Zero Sum Game,” which weaves the orchestral layer and song’s message together for an “incredible moment.”

A Concert and Collision of Greeley’s History

As they prepare for the Oct. 23 performance, both groups recognize the opportunity this concert provides to expose the community to music they might not typically experience.

Photo Credit Michael Olivier

“For fans of the band who are coming to see us…I don’t know how many of them regularly go to an orchestra concert,” said Briana. “It’s cool to bring them into that world.”

“I’m really looking forward to the type of sonic experience that only having that number of musicians on stage brings,” said Mary.

The collision of soul and symphony, uniting of past and present, and collaboration of two musical giants in the Greeley community make this concert both a must-see experience and a defining moment in Greeley’s history. The separate and shared stories of the GPO and The Burroughs demonstrate how Greeley is a place to get creative and take a risk.

Get your ticket to The Burroughs Live with the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra at and share your experience with the arts in Greeley with My Greeley.