Beatles meet Brahms for symphony concert

‘Brahms and Beatles’

West Suburban Symphony

3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9

Westmont High School, 909 Oakwood Dive, Wheaton

$22 for adults, $20 for seniors, $5 for teens, free for children 12 and younger

(630) 887-7464;

What do Johannes Brahms and John, Paul, George and Ringo have in common? Well, their music was popular during the 1860s and 1960s respectively. It also remains popular to this day, though the German composer has a century’s edge.

The music of Brahms and the Beatles will also be side by side during the West Suburban Symphony concert Feb. 9 in Westmont.

“We put a concert together like a meal,” said Peter Lipari, the orchestra’s music director and conductor. “We wanted to do Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and started talking about an all-B program — Bach, Beethoven, Beatles and Brahms. We included the Beatles, because Feb. 9 is the 50th anniversary of their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.”

For the concert, the symphony reached out to the Beatle Brothers, Jay Goeppner and Phil Angotti, who, while not brothers, have voices that blend. “Mine is like Lennon’s,” said Goeppner, “and Phil is Paul. We sing all the Lennon/McCartney songs, and some others. I play guitar a little, but Phil is the real guitarist.”

The Beatle Brothers happened accidentally, he said, laughing. “In 1986 I was listening to Jonathon Brandmeier on WLUP,” Goeppner began. “He wanted to do a broadcast from a home. I got through to him, we got talking. I told him I was a singer and that I loved the Beatles. He asked me to sing something for him.”

Goeppner launched into Lennon’s “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party,” and the popular disc jockey was amazed. “He told me I sounded like John Lennon. Then he played the recording of Lennon singing that song and he was right,” he continued. “My voice did sound like his.”

Brandmeier told him he needed to find someone to harmonize with him like Paul McCartney had with John. “So I went looking for ‘Paul’ and found Phil. I was 23 years old and a career was handed to us.”

If it was handed to them, they also ran with it. They connected with Chicago disc jockeys and soon were regulars on local television channels as well. They’ve played everywhere from Wrigley Field and the United Center to Park West and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

The duo sang at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles gave 300 performances and which now specializes in Beatles tributes. Goeppner himself has done John Lennon tributes all over the world. “I go to Finland and Russia in March,” he said, adding, “I’m living the dream.”

Maestro Lipari also has international connections. In addition to 11 years at the helm of the West Suburban Symphony, he spent 13 years in England, initially as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar and later conducting numerous ensembles.

In 2003, Lipari took the West Suburban Symphony on a performing tour, which included a concert in central London on, of all dates, the Fourth of July!

Of the Beatles portion of his program, he declared, “There have been so many anniversaries in the classical world — Verdi and Wagner in 2012. And we are marking another one — 50 years to the day the Beatles were first seen in the United States.”