Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Moser Woods gets big backing band

City prog rockers joined by players in Philharmonic

Moser Woods at The Embassy

Nick Braun

Whatzup Features Writer

Published May 11, 2022

Surprisingly, something good was able to come from the pandemic, and it will take place Saturday, May 21, at the Embassy Theatre.

When the lights go down inside the theater that night, attendees will be treated to music by local instrumental progressive rock act Moser Woods backed by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players’ Association. 

How does something like that even come into fruition? 

Perhaps we have to travel back to 2003, about the time Lance Hoeppner (keyboards), Rick Kinney (drums), and Shaun Bryan (guitar) formed Moser Woods, a band with comparisons to King Crimson, Tool, Pink Floyd, Yes, and Led Zeppelin, but without the vocals. With the addition of bassist Jake Vachon in 2011, the band rose to a new level of energy and found ways push the envelope. 

Through the years, Moser Woods have been a staple on the Midwest music festival scene, performing some notable shows in the Fort and sharing stages with the likes of Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, Buckethead, and Rusted Root.

putting show together

One thing Moser Woods always thought would be cool was to have a full orchestra backing them up. It’s not the easiest task to pull off  unless you are willing to fork over thousands of dollars.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that this idea started to grow legs as music venues were forced to shut down. 

“During the pandemic, I learned that the actual musicians of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic were not getting paid,” Kinney said. “That really struck a chord with me, due to the fact that they are the main ingredient that has made our city’s orchestra what it is today, and so often our orchestras are used as an asset to attract people to Fort Wayne. Understanding how important it is to retain the actual talent that invests their time, money, and lives into our community, I brainstormed a big fundraiser event for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players’ Association where maybe I could convince someone to get excited about writing out an hour of Moser Woods’ music for full orchestra.” 

Hoeppner will be the first to tell you he was a little dubious when Kinney presented the idea to the band. But that would soon change. 

Kinney called his friend, clarinetist Campbell MacDonald, who is an active member of the Players’ Association. He was taken in by the idea and suggested Kinney speak to Adrian Mann, who has a lot of experience as an orchestrator, as a member of the Players’ Association, and as a longtime bass player with the Philharmonic. Mann ended up stopping by the studio one day where he was shown live video of a Moser Woods performance. He almost immediately agreed that it would be great for a full orchestra. 

According to Kinney, “I agreed to produce and promote this fundraiser where all proceeds would go to the Fort Wayne Players’ Association if Adrian would contribute by orchestrating our music. A handshake was made, and work began.” 

Bryan had a bit of a head start since he had experience scoring cello music when cellist Ed Stevens performed with them at The Clyde in 2019. They the band reached out to former Fort Wayne native (now Chicago) musician Hope Arthur to score out the piano, guitar, and bass for Mann, so he could write it out for full orchestra. The whole process took about 18 months. 

The next task was to find the right venue. 

“I had some discussions and considered several Fort Wayne venues, but the natural choice was the historic Embassy Theatre,” Kinney said. “The connection between the Embassy and our city’s orchestra goes way back to when the building was saved by a group of community volunteers and musicians.” 

something for everyone

What started as a bucket list dream, and took a pandemic to make reality, is ready to be heard by the community. 

“It’s composed so well that everything has its place,” Hoeppner said. “With the music, lights, sound, and just the Embassy’s awesome atmosphere, I really think it’s going to be something super-cool and different. People that like rock music or classical will both appreciate it.” 

Take that together with the gesture of goodwill by Moser Woods to play for free, and this is a win for the Players’ Association. 

With that being said, come out and show your support this wonderful organization that is dedicated to providing cultural growth, economic health, and quality of life in Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas through the consistent performance of orchestral music at the highest level of excellence. 

As an added bonus, the band has arranged for a film and audio crew to record the show which will be shared at a later date.      

Moser Woods just released a live album, Moser Woods Live Clyde Theatre, in March, which can be found on streaming platforms. This was recorded in February 2019 when they opened for Umphrey’s McGee at The Clyde and features a couple tracks from their 2016 release, Tryptophan, and a few new ones.  


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