National Symphony Orchestra and rapper Nas team up in “Great Performances” broadcast

Posted on: February 5, 2018

“I defy anyone who watches this week’s ‘Great Performances’ installment, ‘Nas Live From the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop,’ to emerge on the other side of that hour without transforming their concept of classical music’s adaptability and the heights to which hip-hop can soar,” writes Melanie McFarland in last Wednesday’s (1/31) The PBS show was broadcast on February 2, and “was filmed in 2014, marking the 20th anniversary of Nas’ landmark hip-hop album ‘Illmatic.’ That work is considered by many to be one of the finest, if not the definitive best, recordings of the genre, and the collaboration between Nas and the National Symphony Orchestra amplifies the work’s passion and drama in ways that are unexpectedly moving.” NSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke led the concert. ” ‘Illmatic’ … holds up even two decades since its release … The lyrics marry a raw, street-level energy with a signature East Coast chill, manifesting politics and metaphor in one spot. It’s a cultural statement, history and the news in one swoop. Prime inspirational material for symphonic adaptation, in other words. Classical music is storytelling via individual instrumentation, with characters and acts performed by strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion, speaking to emotion via melody.”

Posted February 5, 2018