Think of a sound so modern that it is barely considered musical. The turntable, whose scratching and quick rhythmic movements seem most at home in dance clubs, is joining with the world of classical music to make the most unlikely of pairs.

Sixty college students from all over the eastern coast will form together this weekend to create the Red Bull Artsehcro, which will be performing on Oct. 2. The student orchestra will perform the world premiere of Raul Yanez’s “Concerto for Turntable” with DJ Radar at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The star instrument of this concerto will be one of the most modern instruments ever to be incorporated into a classical piece of music – the turntable.

Sophomore Jordan Allen and junior Patrick Laird auditioned along with over 300 applicants to participate in the unique program. Applicants were offered the option of auditioning live in New York City, Philadelphia and Boston or through video recording.

The 60 accepted students all study music at the collegiate level and all share a passion for music that goes well beyond the limits of traditional repertoire.

Most of the students are also involved in a number of different art and music programs, from hip-hop to electronic music to fashion. The students were notified in June of their acceptance and will head to NYC on Sept. 30 to begin a rigorous schedule of rehearsals until the Oct. 2 performance.

One of the key elements of this performance lies in this innovative style of music. The backwards spelling of “orchestra” in their name is an extension of the innovative – if not rebellious – attitude of the ensemble. The basis for adapting the turntable into a classical musical instrument lies in its ability to manipulate pitch and speed so that it can play entire musical scales.

Although this concept isn’t necessarily new, the turntable has rarely been played in a style other than improvisation. Additionally, the musical abilities of the turntable had never been transcribed to musical notation, proving to be DJ Radar’s biggest obstacle.

Eventually, DJ Radar met composer Raul Yanez and they were able to develop the scratching and other movements of the turntable into sheet music that used the accepted notation standards. They were then able to adapt the style of the turntable into a classical instrument that could star in the symphony orchestra’s performance.

For many of the students, the purpose of the performance is to present the classical music they know and love into a form of art that can be appreciated by their peers. For Allen and Laird, the idea of innovating classical music into something relatable to others is not that unfamiliar.

Laird said that news of the Red Bull Atrsehcro immediately grabbed his attention.

“I have always been interested in using the cello outside of the classical world,” he said. Laird felt that the performance would be a unique way of doing so.

While at Eastman, Laird has served as the principal cellist of the symphony orchestra. In addition, he spent the summer participating in a small music festival in Maine that he says allowed him to practice plenty of chamber music.

He used this as a learning

experience and inspiration for his own musical goals.

Laird has also worked hard to pursue his interest in the fusion of different musical genres. He started working toward this idea during his freshman year.

“I arranged a cello quartet that would potentially play some rock covers and some of the music I had written for the instrumentation,” Laird said.

Since then, the band has taken off and graced the stages of local clubs as well as the front page of the Rochester City News.

He’s looking forward to not only performing with Red Bull Artsehcro, but also hearing for the first time how the mix of instruments are going to sound.

Allen auditioned for the group on a whim. “I thought it sounded interesting and would be a good career opportunity,” he said.

He eagerly anticipates the unique opportunities the performance will provide.

“As far as repertoire is concerned, I have never had the opportunity to play anything like this – this experience will definitely be one in which I break the mold of the usual classical musician,” Allen said.

He also used this past summer as a time of learning, performing as a member of the New York String Orchestra Seminar. He looks forward to going back to NYC and once again performing an entirely different type of music at Carnegie Hall.

Both Allen and Laird will be joined by Michelle Bishop, a 2004 Eastman graduate who has continued her music career to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Like Allen and Laird, Bishop also shares a love for exploring different musical genres.

Brod can be reached at mbrod@campustimes.org



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