Classic rock takes on a whole new meaning when Break of Reality hits the stage in the UT Martin Fine Arts Building at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23.

The quartet’s boundary-breaking music blends classical technique and rock and roll into a mix of both genres. 

The New York-based band will be the first in the Ed Sargent Series this year.

The musicians that make up Break of Reality appear on stage without the music stands or formal dress of a classical group and talk to the audience, spinning tales that illuminate the music they play, be it an original composition, a song by Tool or Radiohead, or a J.S. Bach arrangement.

Critics have called them alternate-classical, cello rock and indie-classical, but even the band isn’t sure what genre they fall into.

When asked how he categorizes Break of Reality, percussionist Ivan Trevino’s response is usually: “I don’t. Our sound came naturally from studying classical music by day in school and going to rock clubs by night. We’ve all heard classical musicians try to arrange rock music, but they often lack the soul. It can sometimes sound like classical musicians sight reading rock charts. We’re classically trained musicians, but also understand and love the raw qualities of rock; this dichotomy is very clear in our sound.”

Break of Reality started at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., Trevino said.

“Patrick Laird, one of our founding members, was in the orchestra and asked friends to play some rock charts he’d arranged. The first gig was without a percussionist. He immediately knew he wanted the energy of a drummer to drive the sound he was hearing. I was one of the few rockers at Eastman, so he asked me to play.

“At first, we were a heavy-metal cello band. We had amps, we were loud and played rock covers or original rock tunes. Slowly, our classical side crept into what we were doing for a more all-encompassing sound. We’re still rockin’ but with more nuance.”

Since forming in 2004, the band has released three self-produced records. “The Sound Between EP” (2006) and “Spectrum of the Sky” (2009) featured original songs, while “Covers” (2012) highlighted the band’s arrangements of tunes by J.S. Bach, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and System of a Down. 

On “TEN,” the band presents another album of original compositions written by founding members Laird and Trevino. It was recorded in the band’s new studio and mixed by Laird to bring out the sound of the ensemble’s playing. Cellists Laura Metcalf and Adrian Daurov, current members of the band, contributed to the recording, as did cellists Brook Speltz and Meta Weiss. Marnie Laird, Patrick’s wife, played piano on several tracks. The band will be supporting the release of  “TEN” with a countrywide tour. “We’ll be playing the songs on ‘TEN’ for the first time live,” Trevino said.

“Our stage show is a true blend of a classical concert and rock show. We have tons of energy, but there are quite classical moments, too. 

Our audience runs from ages 13 to 70. You’ll see young rock fans, older classical music fans and middle-aged hipsters standing together.”

Ticket prices are $10 for general admission; $5, non-UTM students with student ID; and free for UTM students. Tickets can be purchased at utm.edu/musicevents or at the door.

For more information, contact Chelsea Jones at chelseajones@utm.edu.

The guest artist series is named for UT Martin alum Ed Sargent of Bolivar. Sargent is a Grammy-nominated producer and has many national and international tours in the books. 

His current position is tour manager for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icons Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and formerly served as tour manager and director of operations for the late jazz trumpet player Maynard Ferguson.

Sargent’s musical career is directly linked to a UT Martin concert series event where Stan Mark, lead trumpeter for Ferguson, performed with the UT Martin jazz and concert band while Sargent was a student and artist liaison.

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