Video: Seattle Symphony Gets Wild with Sir Mix-a-Lot

Monday, June 09, 2014 - 10:39 AM

Sir Mix-a-Lot joins Seattle Symphony Orchestra and friends at Benaroya Hall Sir Mix-a-Lot joins Seattle Symphony Orchestra and friends at Benaroya Hall (Seattle Symphony)

One month ago, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra was heard on WQXR giving the New York premiere of John Luther Adams's 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, Become Ocean, at Carnegie Hall.

Last week, Seattle hosted the annual conference of the League of American Orchestras, where the Symphony won an ASCAP award for adventurous programming of contemporary music.

Friday night brought an apparent change of pace – and musical style – when the rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot joined the orchestra for his bawdy 1992 hit "Baby Got Back," as dozens of young women climbed onstage at Benaroya Hall to shake their rear ends.

Sir Mix-a-Lot's performance was part of the Seattle Symphony's "Sonic Evolution" series, an effort to bridge the city's classical and pop music scenes and build new audiences. The song was heard in an arrangement by composer Gabriel Prokofiev, who also contributed an original work, Dial 1-900 Mix-A-Lot. An online video of the performance has received more than 1.5 million views as of Tuesday evening.

The performance has also received a spate of media attention.

"It was an explosion of raucous energy unlike any symphony program at Benaroya before," wrote Charles D. Cross in the Seattle Times. He noted that the soloist quickly overshadowed the music's orchestrations.

New York Times critic James R. Oestreich was less convinced: "I won’t presume to review things so far outside my ken as Sir Mix-A-Lot. But I am left to wonder what a symphony orchestra can meaningfully add to this kind of repertory, notwithstanding Gabriel Prokofiev’s rudimentary orchestrations here," he wrote.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer writer Aubrey Cohen deemed it an event, regardless of artistic merit: "People who weren’t there will be telling their grandkids they were."


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Comments [16]

Jared from Greenwich CT

The coherent point, mr s, is that there is much music within the genre of hiphop that indeed has a place in venues of all kinds. Precisely what I was writing about, if you read. Saying that the music has "no place in any civilized venue" shows that you don't know what you are talking about. Also makes you sound like nothing but a narrow-minded, misinformed snob. I have studied among others the music of Bach, writing at the moment an article on The Art of Fugue-indeed I love to play it as works for piano-at the same time I understand the importance of urban music and culture. I have dj'ed for over 25 years, proper electronic music of all kinds, early rap, experimental as well-and grew up in the midst the of the golden age of the NYC underground- Meredith Monk, John Cage but also Detroit techno and NY house.

Welcome to the 20th and 21st centuries. There's no excuse for posting if you don't know what you are talking about. Turning one's nose up and powdering one's wig is a freedom-yet not too civilized in our time, is it?

Jun. 19 2014 04:04 PM

@Jared from Greenwich

With a comment as long as yours, I'd have expected some sort of coherent point.

Jun. 19 2014 01:36 PM
Jared from Greenwich CT

No one is checking this thread much now I'm sure, so I will contain myself and try to be brief.
"DaveS" says this:

"Unfortunately, I used to listen to rap. I can assure you that it has no place in any civilized venue."

Occasionally I get fed up with unmerited pomposity. More so when it blooms from ignorant seedlings.
Civilized venues....well many early and influential artists within the genre (especially during the 1980s) produced
thoughtful, clever, poetic and intelligent music (yes, *real* actual music folks) that was an urban collision of
emotion and art (De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest are good examples) I'm certainly not claiming that this is to be considered side by side Bartok and his folk music influences, or the bittersweet klezmer music coming from the shtetls of eastern europe and so on-but this is personal music, oft full of storytelling and legit as spoken word coming from the urban black poor neighborhoods. Many late 80's/early 90's artists incorporated jazz into hiphop, with proper ensembles,
and chamber collaborations (string qt and so on) as well as full percussion groups. I do generally hate
"commercial" rap music, especially that which has been made in the 21st century. Much of it is sub-mental,
shallow, skanky, even embarrassing imo. Still there remains today underground hiphop artists that make worthwhile and exciting tunes. Music is the universal dance and one can choose to be a wallflower, to remain narrow. However all musics have intrinsic value-sometimes you just need to know where to look.

Jun. 18 2014 09:14 PM
Jared from Greenwich CT

Baby got Batons

Jun. 16 2014 05:21 PM

dat's why we need mo' women conductors, to shake their booties for us to enjoy

Jun. 11 2014 07:04 AM

In an "arena" setting, maybe. In a "summer festival" setting, maybe. In a mainstream concert hall setting? I'm not sold on it.


Jun. 10 2014 11:02 PM
Avery M. from Kent, Ct

What fun! I wish I'd been there. What a great way to bring some levity and fun to our concert halls, and some much needed younger audience members. Come on folks. We can't hold on to the past forever!

Jun. 10 2014 05:19 PM
Frank from UWS

Looks like fun! Seattle ladiez in da house.

Jun. 10 2014 10:39 AM

I think "regardless of artistic merit" says it all. Bleccch!


Jun. 10 2014 02:11 AM
Mother of Daughters from Texas

Vile. Vulgar. Base. Lewd. Misogynistic. Sophomore. Misguided. Why are patrons of the classical genre allowing this element to crawl out from under its proverbial rock and infiltrate such beautiful music?!

I could not believe that those women would parade themselves up there and commence to act like a bunch of erotic dancers. What is WRONG with people? Why doesn't anyone have any self respect or dignity anymore?

Jun. 10 2014 01:16 AM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

"Sonic Evolution"? - It's more like devolution. Whoever thought up this disgrace ought to be ashamed of themselves. Is the Seattle Symphony Orchestra so desperate for an audience that they would lower themselves to this?
And come on, WQXR, really - "an audience-building effort"? "Could this possibly attract younger people with more eclectic tastes?" More likely, it would attract people with no taste whatsoever. As to how it strikes me? It strikes me as yet another example of the dumbing down of our society and of using music and the arts in general to bring people down instead of lifting them up.

Jun. 09 2014 09:11 PM

What do you all think about Seattle's program as an audience-building effort? Could this possibly attract younger people with more eclectic tastes? Does it strike you as pandering? Or neither?

Jun. 09 2014 07:11 PM

@Al Luna

Unfortunately, I used to listen to rap. I can assure you that it has no place in any civilized venue.

Jun. 09 2014 04:36 PM
Al Luna from Bronx, NY

Had a thought to write a very negative comment on this, but then I thought
"what about when Michael Kamen scored for Metallica, Pink Floyd, or Queensryche? (which I loved)" Was that any different? I know the girls were out of place. Does rap have a place in this type of venue? How can Europe and South America fill their halls without this type of gimmickry? Am I right to call it that?

Jun. 09 2014 04:28 PM

Vulgar; this is not acceptable to women, to musicians of any sort. Waste of time, money. Bring the level up, not down. Who is the sidekick prancing around grabbing his crotch -- this is what we are reduced to? This is what symphony musicians now do to have themselves be engaged as entertainment?

Jun. 09 2014 03:13 PM


Jun. 09 2014 03:08 PM

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