Michael Shobe, Assistant Program Director, WQXR
Michael Shobe is the assistant program director for New York’s classical music radio station WQXR.
You might have heard of a subset of classical music called classical crossover. What is it and why is it so popular? Artists like The Piano Guys, Simply Three, The Black Violin, David Garrett and Lindsey Sterling are all classically trained musicians who explore and mashup pop styles that are trending now. Some grew up as prodigies, others met in music school. But they are all part of a diverse genre of music called, you guessed it, classical crossover.
Violinist Lindsey Sterling has held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Album chart an astonishing three times. She’s a certified YouTube star with more than 8 million subscribers whose fans love her original music, creative videos and super sweet dance moves. Sterling recently teamed up with pianist Lang Lang for this cover of the “Spider-Man Theme” on his new album New York Rhapsody.
The Piano Guys are the undisputed kings of the mashup. They became a YouTube sensation when they combined Faure’s “Pavane” with David Guetta’s “Titanium,” earning them more than 58 million views and a Sony recording contract. Here they say “Hello” again, mixing Mozart, Adele and a room full of mirrors.
Simply Three is a string trio that plays pop covers of songs by artists such as Adele, Hozier and OneRepublic. Their videos often feature the band playing outside, in places like the desert, the forest or in the street. And sometimes they get downright filthy making their art. The guys from Tempe, Arizona, are in their element in this video of Avicii’s massive country-twanged dance hit “Wake Me Up.”
Kev Marcus and Will B. met in high school in Florida, reunited after college and formed the band Black Violin. One of them also plays viola. They’ve worked with Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Tom Petty and Aerosmith, among others. When they tour, they take along a cello, drummer and DJ presenting something unique in the world of orchestral music. Here is a medley of “Locked Outta Heaven” by Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
David Garrett is a child prodigy from Germany who decided the traditional route of a concert soloist wasn’t for him. He tours with a rhythm section and performs programs that combine classical music, rock songs and movie themes. In Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” he has fun with his looping pedal, visual effects, and chalk ... lots of colorful chalk.