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When classical and pop cross over, is it a good thing?

August 21, 2010 | 10:25 am

David Garrett Recent forays into rock by Renee Fleming and classical music by Sting have revived the spotlight on artists crossing from one musical genre to another. But neither opera empress nor pop icon embody crossover music quite like 28-year-old David Garrett.

In 2009 the frightfully handsome violinist, a star in classical music, hit the top of Billboard’s Classical Crossover chart after a glossy film of one of his concerts — during which he, rock band and orchestra raved-up songs by AC/DC and Michael Jackson — was broadcast on PBS stations, including KCET.

On his new album, “Rock Symphonies,” accompanied by a new PBS concert film, Garrett and his Stradivarius hot-wire Beethoven’s Fifth and Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” as well as Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Garrett is a captivating champion of the right of rock and classical music to share chords. Yet as he careens around stages, arpeggios flying from his fingers, he exposes cracks in a relationship that has been shaky from the days the Boston Pops first fluffed up “Hey Jude.”

It’s often painfully apparent that when rock and classical music meet for a date, they have no chemistry. Together, each is diminished.

“You can’t put Halle Berry with Roger Federer, expect them to mate and have a super human being — it doesn’t work that way,” said Bramwell Tovey, music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, whose son Ben plays guitar in the heavy metal band Rise to Remain.

“Rock is an amplified world, classical is an acoustic one. An orchestra is a very organic thing. It can turn on a dime. Amplifying it, locking it inside a rock drum kit, can destroy it.”

Continue reading Kevin Berger's full story here.

To hear Garrett's music check out the video below.

Photo: David Garrett. Credit: Philipp Müller /Decca Label Group

Comments () | Archives (3)

This is amazing. I think that cross overs are good, when they are done well. David Garrett does a fantastic job at blending that music in a way where you don't even realize you're actually listening to classical music.

I don't agree that Rock and Classical diminish each other. Amplification is only a technical consideration. If fact, rock bands do "Unplugged" events all the time. I think a crossover collaboration comes down to how good and balanced the arrangement is. My favorite collaboration is Metallica and the San Fransico Symphony(S&M album). It is awesome. Collaboration between artists of the same genre can bomb as well.

Crossing over is not always a bad scenero. Having exposed my middle school students to his rock music has opened their minds to listen to more classical in its orginal form. My students are from a poor farming community in Oklahoma, to challenge their minds to change their opinion of Classical Music being a snooty, rich person music has been fun and exciting and challenging to say the least. Classical music should have a chance with our youth and not just for the chosen who can afford to pay for it. Thanks for youtube and David Garrett, my students have experienced music with a whole new perspective. His music has profoundly changed their view which in turn changes their lives and how they view the world. After all, music should change the world and bring everyone together.


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