Steve Vai Shreds with 60-Piece Orchestra for 90,000 Fans at Rock in Rio — Video

Steve Vai and the 60-piece Brazilian orchestra Camerata Florianópolis rocked 90,000 attendees at Rock in Rio Brazil 2015 in Rio de Janeiro in a high-energy festival setting that Vai calls “a highlight career moment.”

The performance, which took place on September 25, included spirited takes on such Vai compositions as “Kill the Guy with the Ball,” “Whispering a Prayer,” “Lotus Feet,” and the finale, “For the Love of God,” which you can view below along with another clip from the show.

Vai, who released the orchestral recording Sound Theories Vol. I & II in 2007, And garnered a grammy nomination from his souring and melodically stunning “Lotus Feet” from those performances, is no stranger to performing his own original compositions with orchestras around the world, but the Rock in Rio production marks the largest crowd he has performed with an orchestra at.

Most recently—in 2014—he had performed with the Russian Philharmonic in Kaluga, Russia; the Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra in Szczecin, Poland; The Evolution orchestra from Romania, The Beijing philharmonic in Beijing China, and the Colorado Symphony in Denver Colorado, and the North Netherlands Orkest in Holland,during the third and final year of his The Story of Light World Tour, which took him to 52 countries and 253 engagements.

Vai has always been drawn to composing and started studying composition at 10 years old. He has become known worldwide for his dynamic performances with orchestras and his complex compositions of orchestral works, all the while showcasing his virtuosic displays on guitar.

For Rock in Rio Brazil, Vai was joined by the versatile Camerata Florianópolis, under the direction of Maestro Jeferson Della Rocca, who also founded the group. In its 22nd concert season, the orchestra known for its symphonic work is considered among the most important performing groups in Brazil. In addition to the success achieved in several Brazilian states, the orchestra has achieved great recognition through tours of France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

“For me, performing in Rio de Janeiro at Rock in Rio 2015 with the Camerata Florianópolis was a career highlight,” Vai says. “Feeling the intensity of the orchestra that was holding me up, the night sky, the notes under my fingers and in my mind’s ear, and the aliveness of presence of the 90,000 people and their collective energy, all came together beyond my expectations. It was like standing tippy-toe at the top of Mt. Everest and sharing my secrets with the vastness.”

Camerata Florianópolis maestro Jeferson Della Rocca added, “During the last song [‘For the Love of God’], the audience began to sing in chorus to the melody. It gave us chills from head to toe to see nearly 100,000 people singing. Steve looked at me, and I looked at him. It was amazing.”

Vai’s latest release, Stillness in Motion: Vai Live in L.A., is available now from Sony/Legacy in a two-DVD set and two-CD set. The DVD includes nearly four hours of bonus footage, edited by Vai himself, titled The Space Between the Notes, which entertainingly chronicles the epic three-year, 253-engagement The Story of Light Tour.

You can keep up with Steve Vai on his website, Facebook and Twitter, and view more videos on his YouTube channel.

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Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.