press enter to search

Iskandar Widjaja combines contemporary and classical in ‘Hip Hop Symphony’

Josa Lukman
Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, September 17, 2020  /  02:49 pm
Iskandar Widjaja combines contemporary and classical in ‘Hip Hop Symphony’

Iskandar Widjaja. (Courtesy of Heritage Concert Series/-)

Hip-hop is not a genre normally associated with string instruments, much less classical music. As unlikely as it might sound, violinist Iskandar Widjaja marries these two different musical worlds together in his latest single, “Hip Hop Symphony”, slated to hit the airwaves on Oct. 2.

Like the title suggests, “Hip Hop Symphony” is a genre-busting piece in which the violin – with all the pomp and romp of classical music and all the baggage that comes with it – meets urban beats you can dance to.

Musically, “Hip Hop Symphony” is also a departure from the raw melancholy of Iskandar’s previous single, “Spirited Away”. While retaining hints of modern pop, the upcoming single is much more fast-paced and showcases his expertise in dynamics.

The frantic, almost manic, violin is still the star, though the thumping bass beats ground the piece without sounding alienating. Based on Christian Sinding’s “Suite in the Old Style”, the neobaroque tone is kept wonderfully intact, a testament to Iskandar’s classical training.Accompanying the single's release is a music video shot in Jakarta, a rather appropriate choice given the capital’s historic legacy as it simultaneously looks to the future.

The video opens with a shot of Iskandar standing pensively before a graffitied wall. The violinist performs while walking along a pedestrian bridge overlooking traffic lanes, interspersed with choreographed scenes featuring five hip-hop dancers from Papua.

The scenes showing the dancers are perhaps the video’s main appeal, containing genre-defying juxtapositions of visual and musical elements.

On the one hand, Iskandar performs in as spirited a manner as he can as the dancers respond to both rhythm and melody like it's second nature. Iskandar’s "routine" is also choreographed, certainly no mean feat when he is playing the violin at the same time.

Like “Spirited Away” before it, “Hip Hop Symphony” is one of his original compositions Iskandar has released this year, and marks a new juncture in his career following the release of several consecutive classical albums.

These genre-bending singles feature more experimentation and incorporates his own vocals, including one song that has a rap section.

Iskandar, who is clearly carrying and expanding on the musical legacy of his virtuoso grandfather Udin Widjaja, told The Jakarta Post from Berlin in an earlier interview that he liked experimenting because of his personal philosophy to not be confined by genres and to simply follow the music.

“I think that audiences nowadays have everything on their playlists. Of course, people have particular tastes, but no one really listens to one genre. That is very rare,” he said.

Your premium period will expire in 0 day(s)

close x
Subscribe to get unlimited access Get 50% off now