Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra brings New Zealand Music Month to a dynamic close with a concert that unites the worlds of orchestral music and hip-hop.
The 31 May concert, dubbed 'Remix the Orchestra: Full Orchestra Meets Hip-Hop', is the culmination of five years of collaboration between the APO and leading hip-hop musicians who have worked together to mentor young artists, and who now appear together on one stage for the first time.
Joining the orchestra for the Auckland Town Hall concert are several of New Zealand's leading hip-hop acts: Tyree (Smashproof), Frisko (aka Alphrisk, Deceptikonz) and hip-hop legend Ermehn (OMC, etc), one of the most respected artists on the local urban music scene. The three each perform a track from their impressive catalogues.
Spinning decks throughout is DJCXL (Ill Semantics), a former NZ DMC Champion whose new album Represent recently spent time in the national top 40 and reached as high as #4 on the NZ artists' album chart.
Leading proceedings from the podium is the respected conductor, composer and music educator Kenneth Young. Mr Young also arranged the orchestral scores, and in the past has played a prominent mentoring role in the Remix programme.
To complement the guest artists, five senior APO musicians take roles as soloists: Miranda Adams (Assistant Concertmaster), Brent Grapes (Principal Trumpet), Ingrid Hagan (Principal Bassoon), Annabella Leslie (Associate Principal Bass) and Eric Renick (Principal Percussion).
It's not the first time members of the APO have performed with hip-hop artists. The orchestra has been running week-long Remix workshops for some years, pairing talented young urban musicians and at-risk youth with mentors from the orchestra and the hip-hop world. The workshops have resulted in several CDs, and as well as established hip-hop stars, the Town Hall concert showcases some of the leading music and musicians from earlier Remix projects.
"We wanted to celebrate the fifth year of our Remix programme with something different," explains APO Chief Executive Barbara Glaser. "Previously we've had small groups of APO musicians working with rappers at Otara Music Arts Centre [OMAC]. This time the urban musicians are backed by a full symphony orchestra playing on the Auckland Town Hall main stage. Nothing like this has ever been done in New Zealand on this scale."
The concert reaches beyond music, featuring dancers and graffiti crew FDKNS. The latter will create their art on tablet computers, with the work being projected on to screens.
"Remix the Orchestra is as much a cultural collaboration as a musical one," says the concert's music director, Anonymouz (Matthew Faiumu Salapu), a classically trained hip-hop producer who has been involved with Remix since it began. "Hip-hop and classical have obvious differences, not just musically but also in terms of things like dress and concert protocols. Hip-
hop audiences are part of the performance; there's often a call and response between artist and crowd. Orchestral audiences show their appreciation by listening intently and clapping at the end. This concert aims to bridge those sorts of gaps."
"Sometimes we focus too much on differences," adds Ms Glaser. "What's great about this concert is that it brings people together to celebrate something we know for sure they all have in common: a love of music."
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