Thanks to the magical powers of facebook and to the generosity of friends reposting our blog posts, the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra concert that featured Nas named Steven Reineke responded to our blog post on this performance via facebook. How exciting is this???
A super-cool person who's also the conductor of the New York Pops, Reineke provided more context on the performance. Here's our exchange:
Steven Reineke: Nice article Kira. I was the conductor of the NSO concerts with Nas
as I'm the Pops conductor of the NSO. We are always trying new things with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center and this years opening of the annual festival was a unique and exciting challenge since this years theme was Hip-Hop. Nas was a pleasure to work with and he was involved in the creative process all along as we re-imagined Illmatic. The purpose was to make it a true collaboration between the worlds of symphony orchestra and Hip-Hop. I thought the end product was astounding, due in no small part to the orchestrators and arrangers, Derek Hodge and Tim Davies. Technically, this was an NSO Pops concert. We are always offering concerts true to our roots as well as finding ways to explore and collaborate with new artists and different types of music. You can check out our upcoming NSO Pops season online. I'm glad this has people talking! I think Nas and the NSO helped to both "legitimize" each other, not that we need each other to do that since both are already legit in their own right. It was simply another exploration of American Music. I really do appreciate your post. All the best!
Kira: Holy crap! I wasn't expecting someone from the NSO to actually read this and comment on it! Thank you so much! And may other orchestras start adapting the same techniques you guys are doing. Let's celebrate contemporary music in all its different forms and guises. And if it gives orchestras a chance to reach new audiences then all the better.
Kira: P.S. Kudos to the orchestrators and arrangers of the music. How cool are they?
Steven Reineke: Agreed! I'm just happy that it opened a dialogue about what can, can't, should, or shouldn't be done in these settings. I'm all for the orchestra coming down from it's ivory tower and bringing music to ALL people, not just old, rich, white people. Also, I will do everything I can to showcase great American music in all of it's genres.
Kira: Um, you have a new superfan over here, Steven. How lucky are the NSO and the New York Pops to have you as a conductor??? Clint: thank you for introducing me to my new personal hero. I'm seriously going to be floating on cloud nine for the rest of the day...