Hard rocker Serj Tankian from System of a Down is pairing up with the Cal State Northridge orchestra for two nearly sold-out performances of Tankian’s orchestral work.

The “little incident,” as Serj Tankian refers to it, occurred more than six years ago in Atlanta. The rock star and frontman of the popular heavy metal band System of a Down had gone solo and decided to perform his rock tunes, classical style, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

He had done it successfully with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra the previous year in New Zealand, so the singer reasoned, why not take the act stateside? The crucial catch was that his only rehearsal with the orchestra was a simple sound check. The concert that followed was a disaster.

“Drunk people with their beers were hitting the stage while the violin solo was going on,” Tankian recalls with a sly grin. “I couldn’t even turn around.”

Tankian remembers his piano player looking at him out of the corner of his eye and mouthing the word, “uncivilized,” over and over again.

The experience made Tankian not want to perform his classical music in the U.S. again. Until now. Tankian will play nearly sold-out shows Nov. 10 and 12 at the 1,700-seat Valley Performing Arts Center on the campus of Cal State Northridge. He’ll be accompanied by the CSUN Symphony in the North American premiere of his “Elect the Dead” and “Orca” symphonies.

an hold two impossible ideas in their heads.