Portland Cello Project: Mashing Up Hip-Hop, Jazz and Classical Music

Considering we love sharing news about classical crossover artists, I’m a little surprised at myself for not hearing about the Portland Cello Project until stumbling onto an this article.  Founded in 2006/7, the Portland Cello Project boldly mixes up concert repertoire with traditional classical music repertoire and arrangements of jazz, hip-hop, rock and more.  Check out this arrangement of this Kanye West and Jay-Z song.

As described by in the article few groups are willing to combine this eclectic program:

The show opened with a lively classical piece, Manuel de Falla’s familiar Ritual Fire Dancefrom his 1915 ballet Love, the Magician, then was followed by an original composition by PCP’s Gideon Freudmann, an arrangement of Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol’s famous Caravan, the beloved chorus from Bizet’s Carmen (complete with audience participation), and several pieces by contemporary composers, including Osvaldo Golijov’s Lúa descolorida.

Next came what Douglas Jenkins described as “a strict canon on a theme by [hip-hop star] L’il Wayne, one of the most offensive songs in the history of man,Lollipop,” then another jazz classic and yet another classic TV theme, Paul Desmond’s Brubeck Quartet hitTake Five, yoked to Lalo Schifrin’s driving Mission Impossible theme, plus one of their early signature covers (a zesty take on Britney Spears’ Toxic), before concluding with a Pantera cover that might have been the most inventive arrangement of the evening, and another hip-hop cover, by Kanye West, one of several from their newly released album, Homage.

The group is currently on tour, and I’m really annoyed I missed them, so check ‘em out. This sounds like a really fun concert.

Here’s another video with the group playing a Pantera tribute.

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