From left to right: Quartet members Shayna Lyttle, Victoria Callahan, Isabel Kirkwood, and Calvin Guo.
On the first Saturday of September, two of the greatest rock bands of all time will battle for dominance at the Historic Academy of Music Theatre. Touring tribute performance “Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown” is coming to town, accompanied by some of Lynchburg’s brightest young musicians. Heritage High School junior Calvin Guo and seniors Isabel Kirkwood, Victoria Callahan, and Shayna Lyttle will join the bands, providing strings accompaniment for six classic hits.
“Each member of this quartet is incredibly talented,” said Heritage High School orchestra director Scott Stalcup. “It’s not every day you get the chance to perform with professionals, and I’m proud of how they’ve risen to the challenge.”
Named “the most unique tribute show in decades” by the Los Angeles Times, the concert has toured for years, this time hitting 125 cities in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Guo, Kirkwood, Callahan, and Lyttle will join the ranks of high-caliber student musicians around the world who have performed with the tribute bands, Abbey Road and Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Show.
Meet the Musicians
At rehearsal, the students are hard at work smoothing out kinks in their renditions of “Hey Jude” and “Gimme Shelter.” During a break, they drift over to chat about their experience.
LCS: You’re clearly very skilled musicians. When did you start playing music, and why are you passionate about it?
GUO: I started playing the violin in third grade. I’m passionate about music because I find enjoyment in playing it, especially with other people.
KIRKWOOD: I started with the violin in kindergarten, and then I switched to viola in sixth grade. My family is full of musicians–almost everyone plays an instrument. Playing music together really connected us.
CALLAHAN: I started playing the violin in kindergarten, too. I just think it’s a fun way to destress and get your mind off schoolwork. I really enjoy making music and performing for people.
LYTTLE: I picked up the guitar at seven, and I loved that. Then, in sixth grade, I started playing cello in orchestra class, which was great. It was a fun chance to go to class but not have to worry about school–just focus on the music.
LCS: Do you have a favorite song by the Beatles or Stones?
GUO: I like “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles.
KIRKWOOD: I like that song, too. I also love “The Fool on the Hill.” It’s one of my favorite songs, ever since I was little.
CALLAHAN: My favorite out of the ones we’ve played is probably “Eleanor Rigby.”
LYTTLE: Yeah, same here. The cello has this great melodic part in the beginning.
LCS: Are any of you Beatles or Stones fans?
GUO: I wouldn’t consider myself a Beatles or Stones fan.
KIRKWOOD: I grew up listening to the Beatles, so their music has a lot of nostalgia for me. I’d call myself a Beatles fan.
CALLAHAN: I wouldn’t consider myself a Beatles or Stones fan, but this show has definitely opened my eyes to more of their music. I’ve enjoyed all the pieces we’ve worked on.
LYTTLE: I feel like our generation isn’t really into the whole Beatles vs. Stones debate, but I definitely do enjoy playing these pieces. It’s shown me that I can appreciate different styles of music.
LCS: If you could pit any two artists or groups against each other in a battle-of-the-bands-style showdown, who would they be?
GUO: For me, it’d be the Russian composers Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
KIRKWOOD: I’d want to see Taylor Swift and Harry Styles up against each other. Though I think Taylor would win.
CALLAHAN: I’d love to see Olivia Rodrigo battle it out with Sabrina Carpenter.
LYTTLE: I would probably choose the movie composers John Williams and Hans Zimmer. They both have amazing music, so it would be hard to choose.
LCS: What’s been the most meaningful part of this experience for you?
GUO: It’s been awesome playing music with my friends and getting closer with them.
KIRKWOOD: Yeah, it’s been great getting closer with everyone here. I know we’ve all played together from time to time, but we haven’t played in such a close-knit group before. I’m excited for the performance–it’s such a fun show, and I think it’s going to make a lot of people happy. That’s really important to me.
CALLAHAN: For me, the most meaningful part has been getting close with this little group of people and performing music that we’re not used to playing or hearing. We haven’t played with the bands yet, but I think that’ll also be a super cool experience.
LYTTLE: I’m excited about the opportunity to perform as a small group in front of a bunch of people. Usually, we’re performing for the families and students at our school, but this time, we get to represent Heritage High School to all of Lynchburg.
How to Watch
The show is on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on the Academy’s website.