Students reinvent classical music

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Jonathan Daniels, junior music performance major, plays his viola during the Classical Reinvention concert Wednesday evening. The event featured UT students performing classical music tailored for modern listeners.

Photo Credit: Nathan Goldsmith | Daily Texan Staff

Jazz covers of Radiohead and a performance of total silence greeted audience members Wednesday night at the debut concert for Classical Reinvention, a student creation attempting to bring classical music to modern audiences.


The groups performed classical standards as well as experimental modern pieces in the hope to alter stereotypes depicting classical music as passive and calm, said music performance senior Jacqueline Perrin, who co-organized the event. The concert consisted of five different groups ranging from a string quartet to jazz ensemble.

“In the eyes of the public, classical music has become something it’s not,” Perrin said. “People think of classical music as calm and relaxing background music, when in reality there’s a rich repertoire that’s emotional and extremely intense.”

While the traditional concert setting evokes images of black-tie audience members quietly appreciating a performance, Classical Reinvention hopes to turn classical music into an engaging social event, Perrin said.

“We want people to be active participants in the music,” Perrin said. “Today’s concert environment feels more like an educational setting than entertainment, and we have to change that if we want to make classical music relevant today.”

The concert replaced the traditional program handed out to the audience with a slideshow that detailed the history and styles of the different pieces being performed. Halfway through the concert, finance and biology senior Sergio Lozano performed John Cage’s composition “4’33,” which is comprised of complete silence. Perrin then spoke with the audience to ask them about their experience of the music.

Psychology senior and guitarist Christian Kues said he has recently started to appreciate orchestral music, and concert engagement could open minds about what the public considers music to be.

“People think of classical music as this narrow genre,” Kues said. “It’s not a genre at all, but it’s a musical form that you can get all sorts of styles and emotions out of. And there’s so much history to it that it varies over different periods and ages.”

The last performance of the night was a jazz ensemble of four UT students who combined Radiohead’s song, “Exit Music (For a Film),” with a jazz arrangement by jazz performance senior Sam Pankey. Pankey said he was inspired to make the arrangement after another musician had turned Radiohead and other popular groups into jazz songs.

“I like to play pop music because it allows me to connect with the audience, and that’s a difficult thing to do,” Pankey said. “I try to get the way I feel about the music across by the way I play and the way I perform. I want my audience to hear what I hear, and too many people forget that music and jazz especially is all about reinvention.”

Printed on Thursday, February 23, 2012 as: Students reinvent classical music genre