You might think it is odd that the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will be performing with acrobats, jugglers, aerialists and strong men in its weekend of circus-themed concerts that begin Friday at Bass Hall.
But wait. It gets stranger.
One of the stars of the troupe providing the circus element, Cirque Musica, is a cowboy from New York City.
"I grew up in the Bronx. But I am a cowboy and I do a Western act," explained A.J. Silver, who will be offering a trick roping routine backed by the likes of Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky. "There is a lot of park land in the Bronx, and there are stables where you can ride horses. My greatest love was always being outdoors around the horses."
So Silver learned to sit a saddle at an early age. But the career path that would lead him to Bass Hall did not reveal itself until he was taken to an entertainment event that had nothing to do with circuses or symphonies.
"I saw the rodeo at Madison Square Garden when I was 11 years old and it made me want to be a cowboy. What little boy doesn't want to be a cowboy?"
But unlike so many buckaroo wannabes, Silver made the dream a reality.
"I started my rodeo career as a trick rider. I traveled all over the United States," said Silver, who added that Fort Worth was among his stops in his rodeo days. "From that I developed a trick roping act that has taken me all over the world."
Silver explained that he and his cohorts work on other Cirque du Soleil-like projects when not doing Cirque Musica. After the concerts this weekend, he will be heading to Germany to spin his lasso.
This weekend's concerts promise to be quite a departure from what is usually offered in the symphony's Pops Series.
"This art form engages you differently. [The circus performers] are in front of us and above us. It never stops," said symphony music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who has done concerts like this one with other troupes and other orchestras, but never with Cirque Musica or the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. "We are challenging people in a certain way."
And the circus performers, who will be swinging and rolling around the stage, are also going to be challenged.
"We are performing very close to them," Silver pointed out. "And they have very, very expensive instruments. So we have to be sure that our world doesn't collide with their world. So there is a little bit of tension."
Harth-Bedoya said the program will include some music by the masters, as well as lighter fare (such as works by John Williams and the Beatles) and music composed to support the circus acts.
"Our orchestra can play anything. Baroque, Romantic, jazz, you name it," said Harth-Bedoya, who, like most principal conductors, seldom takes the podium for pops concerts.
"Frequently, pops shows bring their own conductor. Or my schedule does not allow me to do those concerts. But, this time, it worked out. And since I had great experiences with shows like this before, I wanted to do this one."
And he is also going to make sure he has an audience.
"My kids are coming," said the maestro. "It's very family-friendly."