Across the Pond: Classical Music Made Modern

Bertie Magit / May 24, 2012
Yellow Lounge

Last week Yellow Lounge opened its doors for the first time at its newest venue across the pond (London, England). Yellow Lounge is a club whose goal is to make classical music current and extremely accessible, where the DJs spin Bach, not Rihanna. The club has locations all over the world including New York, Berlin, and now London.

all photos by Howie Tam
Yellow Lounge

The opening of Yellow Lounge in London was held in the Bankside Vaults, with performances by Eric Whitacre and his choir as well as headliners Hilary Han and Haushcka. The ambience was set with low lighting, giant floor pillows, and a ballerina dancing behind a wooden gate. Canisius, the DJ, played solely classical tunes while Pfadfinderei, a VJ from Berlin, played digital videos on each of the large screens set about the room.

Eric Whitacre and the Whitacre Singers

The first group to go on was composer/conductor Eric Whitacre and the Whitacre Singers, his traveling choir. Staying true to the Yellow Lounge promise, the classical choir had a very contemporary presence. First of all, I have never seen a choir perform in a non-religious setting. But the aspect that stood out most was the video he had created – a compilation of more than a thousand home-recorded versions of his piece “Water Night” sent in by ordinary people all over the world to create Eric Whitacre’s very own monstrous virtual choir.

The real treat of the night was the collaboration of Hilary Hahn and Hauschka. Hilary Hahn is a violinist from the United States and Hauschka is a pianist from Germany who specializes in prepared piano. The duo met a few years ago and after many jam sessions they decided to make an improvised album inspired by a trip they took to Iceland. At the Yellow Lounge, Hahn and Hauschka played a fully improvised set, allowing the audience to experience an entirely unique performance. After every song, Hauschka would drop something new into his piano, like wooden sticks or a metal chain, in order to change the sound and then he and Hahn would begin again.

One of the greatest aspects of London is its existence as an international hub. With cheap airlines and speedy trains, it is easy to travel all over Europe in a short amount of time for a small cost. While this makes it easier to become immersed in many cultures, easy travel also allows for artists, musicians, and other cultural composers to create and perform in London.

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