Crossing over

The classical-pop crossover continues to thrive with its appeal to younger audiences.

By Edmund Wee      9 January 2020

The classical-pop music crossover is hardly a new phenomenon. With crossover artists such as violinist Vanessa Mae and Croatian pianist Maksim Mrvica grabbing headlines for the success of their repertoires, it’s no wonder even classical stalwarts are nudging into contemporary territory.

A good example is the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO). Since 1979, the SSO, which is Singapore’s flagship orchestra, has been performing classical music from composers ranging from the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Puccini.

But with the changing times, even purists are tailoring old-world charm to younger and more diverse audiences, as the SSO has done with the introduction of the SSO POPS crossover series. Last April, the SSO presented the POPS: “Video Games Classics” concert, conducted by the Irish queen of video games music, Eímear Noone, whose credits include 26 film and game titles, including Blizzard’s Overwatch, Hearthstone, Diablo III and The Legend of Zelda.

More recently, in December 2019, as part of the POPS series, SSO also performed “The Music of Star Wars” – a collaborative tie-up coinciding with the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which was released in Singapore cinemas on 19 Dec.

Led by Australian conductor Christopher Dragon, the performance featured some of the movie franchise’s most recognisable tunes, ranging from Princess Leia’s Theme to Across the Stars. The concert also showcased other Star Wars scores from its composer, John Williams, featuring themes from more recent releases like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

This seemingly growing appeal in the pop-classical crossover is still building steam. Back by popular demand, another crossover artist will return to Singapore for a concert on 29 Feb this year: pianist Yiruma.

The South Korean is no traditionalist. To date, he has collaborated with a number of K-pop artists, including Chungha, 2AM and Baek Ji Young. But it is his unique fusion of contemporary and classical genres that has garnered him worldwide fame.