Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Atlanta Black Star: Orchestra Noir Conductor Puts Black Kids First: ‘You Have Classical Music As a Career Choice’

Jason Ikeem Rodgers
(Max Eremine)

March 27, 2017

Orchestra Noir is likely the kind of ensemble you’ve never seen or heard before.
Conducted by lifelong classical musician Jason Ikeem Rodgers, the all-Black orchestra will shake up the music scene with “Night at the Symphony” Friday, March 31, at Atlanta’s Center Stage Theater with a can’t-miss performance that fuses classical and popular music.

The maestro, who has appeared with various orchestras in his hometown of Philadelphia and guest conducted with Italy’s Orchestra Di Toscana Classica, said he wanted to change the way audiences experience classical music by “bringing the bar to the concert hall.” Orchestra Noir will transform the typical vibe of a classical music performance with the help of nine-time Grammy award-winning producer Bryan Michael Cox.

“This has probably never been done before. We’re going to give people what they’re used to — DJ and party — but we’re going to incorporate the orchestra in a very unique way,” Rodgers said coyly before revealing the show will be a battle between Cox and Orchestra Noir. Cox will spin pop, hip-hop and R&B songs as the DJ, while Orchestra Noir will play pop tunes to see who can get the most audience members grooving.

“I want to have people standing up and dancing, I want them next to their chairs. We’re celebratory people,” Rodgers said of the Black community. “We like to dance, we like to move. I want to incorporate that side of Blackness into the classical music spectrum … so people can say, ‘Yes, I heard some Mozart and I heard some opera, but, girl, I was on my feet dancing when they started playing some Usher!'”

Growing up, Rodgers did not have many Black orchestra conductors or musicians to look up to and said he “got used to that concept.”



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