Hypebot reported last week on a trend of indie artists emerging, whom are starting to bridge the gap between indie and classical music. I am tuned UP’s founder (me) isn’t particularly well versed in classical music, but is fascinated by the trend and thinks it bears looking at. So, we went to the source. Two recent graduates of the prestigious Wheaton College Conservatory weighed in on their thoughts regarding this trend.
I had never heard of the two ensembles featured [in the article], but I know of a lot of conservatory trained musicians who creatively bridge the gap between classical and contemporary music. One example is the pianist Christopher O’Riley who has recorded his own arrangements of Radiohead songs. On another side, you have Bela Fleck, whose music ranges from bluegrass to jazz and classical (on banjo, no less). I think young classical musicians are more and more aware of the need to connect with current music trends and show the lasting relevance of the classics.
– Jeff Hobday, Bachelor of Music, Wheaton College ’11
Two things come to mind: 1) I think the groups and ideas featured in this article are an excellent example of music shifting to meet the needs and reflect the evolving identity of our generation. People our age (“children of the internet,” if you will) have been shaped by a social milieu different from that of our parents and grandparents (part of which is the pervasiveness of social media), and it is only natural that, as we come of age, we will create music that reflects our unique needs and identities. 2) This trend reprensents a blurring of the “traditional” distinctions between folk, pop, and classical musics. While the three meta-genres have always been fluid, and artists throughout history have combined and re-combined them at will (think of Bartok’s use of Hungarian folksong, or the Beatles’ use of the sitar), the boundaries are becoming even less clear in our age.
– Kayla (Smith) Rush, Bachelor of Music, Wheaton College ’11
So, who are these groups that are embodying these trends? To start, the article mentions wild Up and Fifth House Ensemble. The latter is a chamber music group that performs in accord with current events and cultural trends. Take In Transit for example, a work that they put together regarding the evolution and preeminence of social media. View the trailer below:
wild Up. is an LA group of self-professed “progressive noise makers.” Their Facebook “about” section explains who they are best:
wild Up is a modern music collective – a group of Los Angeles-based musicians committed to creating visceral, thought-provoking happenings. Our programs are eclectic studies of people, places, and ideas that we find interesting. The group believes that music is a catalyst for shared experiences, and that the concert venue is a place for challenging, exciting, and igniting the community around us.
What do they sound like? Watch this video of their debut performance:
Intriguing, no? The idea of classically trained musicians embracing modern trends is something that needs to happen more often. It’s starting to happen in indie rock (Wes Blaylock from Deas Vail has a classically trained voice). wild Up however gives new meaning to the term “crossover band.”