RCS and Ensemble Mik Nawooj: the Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience

Edinburgh Festival Fringe | August 5 – 14

Ensemble Mik Nawooj and RCS musicians in rehearsal for The Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience

Mozart, Beethoven and Bach will be reimagined by Californian hip-hop artists and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland musicians in a new Edinburgh Festival Fringe show that blurs musical boundaries.

The Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience brings together RCS students and graduates and US rapper Young Reshaud and turf dancer Yung Phil of Ensemble Mik Nawooj (EMN).

EMN seamlessly fuses hip-hop and classical to offer a compelling mix of music including works by some of the world’s greatest composers – deconstructed and reimagined with funky rhythms and rapid-fire rhymes.

The Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience, which runs from August 5 to 14 at TheSpace Triplex, features strings, woodwind, French horn and vocals. It’s the creation of EMN co-founders, composer JooWan Kim and producer Christopher Nicholas.

Samantha McShane, Head of Artistic Planning at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “The team at Ensemble Mik Nawooj are bending the boundaries of genres and creating inspiring, relevant, and important art.

“The spirit of the Ensemble creates the perfect environment for creative collaboration between Royal Conservatoire of Scotland students and alumni and EMN. We are very excited about the potential for this relationship between both organisations to grow. Watch this space!”

JooWan Kim said: “The Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience is something of a type and scale that has never been done before – around 20 performers on stage with a fusion of hip-hop and classical – the end result has a vibrant energy, beauty and identity all of its own.

“Wherever we go, we want to work with musicians, and capture the spirit of that place – and collaborating with the Royal Conservatoire allows us to do exactly that. It’s an incredibly exciting partnership and one that we hope Fringe audiences will really enjoy.”

Soprano Rosie Lavery, who is studying for her Masters in Vocal Studies at RCS under the tutelage of Clare Shearer, shares an insight into being part The Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience.

Tell us about being part of The Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience at the Fringe?

I’m so excited to be a part of this incredible project and I’m looking forward to using my voice in a non-operatic setting and seeing how it will be received. People won’t be expecting me, that’s for sure!

One of my main goals as a musician is to make the classical music world more accessible, and I think this show does just that. For some people in the audience, this may be their first time hearing an orchestra or a classical voice playing modern music, and I am so excited to be a part of bringing this to Edinburgh.

On a personal note, many of my non-musician friends love hip-hop and rap. It has allowed me to have really interesting discussions with them about what classical music can be, and how orchestras can be heard in a variety of different settings and environments. I hope it has the same effect on our audiences!

What is your role within the performance?

I am the ‘solo soprano’ and only non-rap singer that performs as part of the orchestra.

The show fuses hip-hop and classical, is this your first time working on a performance like this?

Yes it is! I have always loved going to see projects that push musical expectations to the limits and am so looking forward to performing this really interesting concept that merges diverse music styles so seamlessly. I am so excited to perform alongside a rapper, drums, dancers and more – all of which are very rarely seen in opera!

What are you enjoying about the experience?

As a young working-class gay woman from Glasgow who didn’t come to opera and singing through traditional channels, I always relish the opportunity to show how universally enjoyable classical music can be and showcase it in a different light. It’s an opportunity to get this music out to as wide an audience as possible. I’m also keen to explore and expand my own musicianship by collaborative work with this already established ensemble.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?

I hope this show will give audiences a new outlook on possible assumptions about what ‘classical’ music can be. A show filled with rap, hip-hop, drums and dancing, alongside Mozart, an orchestra and classical singing – it really does have something for everyone.

About Rosie

Rosie Lavery is ‘The Ginger Soprano’, currently studying her Masters in Vocal Studies at RCS under the tutelage of Clare Shearer. Rosie is the proud recipient of the Salomon Seelig Musicians Company Award and is delighted to be a Britten Pears Young Artist and a Dewar Arts Young Artist. During her time at RCS, Rosie has won the prestigious Governor’s Recital Prize and was awarded second place in the Hugh Robertson Scots Song Competition twice (2020 & 2021) and second place in the French Song Competition. She was also delighted to win the Florence Veitch Ibler Prize for Oratorio Singing. 

Rosie has performed all over Europe, including performing in the chorus of Donizetti’s ‘L’elisir d’amore’ in the Palazzo Corsini in Florence, and a solo recital with Wurlitzer organ in the Royal Tuschinski Theatre in Amsterdam. Rosie will be attending the RCS Alexander Gibson Opera School in Autumn 2022. In early 2022, Rosie came second place in the Charles Wood Song Prize Competition in Armagh, Northern Ireland.

She has been the soprano soloist with many choirs in Glasgow, including RCS Voices, Academy of Sacred Music and Glasgow Cathedral Choir. She has also been involved in various projects with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, including a radio recording of Bartok’s ‘Der Wünderbar Mandarin’. Rosie continues to perform recital programmes around Scotland, in venues such as Dundee’s Caird Hall, The House for an Art Lover and Institut Français. She recently completed a UK and European tour of the 1925 silent film Phantom of the Opera in late Autumn 2021.

The Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience
Venue: TheSpace Triplex (Venue 38)
Time: 23:35
Dates: 5-14 August
Duration: 60 minutes
Ticket prices: £12 and £10 concessions
Advisory: Age 16+ (strong language, swearing)
Box office: www.edfringe.com

Rehearsal images Richard Walker

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