Beethoven, Kanye, Kendrick, and classical music’s boundaries

Posted on: July 3, 2018

Many of rapper and producer Kanye West’s albums “feature string arrangements and vocals by the Yale-trained composer and pop artist Stephen ‘Johan’ Feigenbaum,” writes Spencer Kornhaber in the July issue of The Atlantic. “Since 2016, Feigenbaum and the conductor Yuga Cohler have periodically put on performances they call ‘Yeethoven.’ … With a contingent of classical instrumentalists, they trace the similarities between the works of a 21st-century rapper/producer and an 18th- to 19th-century composer…. An abridged ‘Yeethoven’ last week at the Aspen Ideas Festival [was performed] amid so much conversation around West’s extra-musical antics and in the wake of Kendrick Lamar’s recent winning of the Pulitzer Prize for Music…. Kornhaber: Have you heard from people in the classical world who’ve been converted to Kanye fandom? Cohler: Yeah, especially the orchestral musicians. They’re generally young, under 35. Some of them already love Kanye, some of them have never heard of him, but in almost every instance they’ll be like … oh, he’s a legitimate musician. Feigenbaum: Looking out at the faces last night, half the room looked like people who didn’t ever listen to Kanye West before in their life. But they were nodding intently.”

Posted July 3, 2018