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Daily Independent: Phoenix Symphony to fuse rap, classical music in May concerts

May 6, 2024


Guest conductor Steve Hackman will lead The Phoenix Symphony in performances this month of “The Resurrection Mixtape.”

Guest conductor Steve Hackman will lead The Phoenix Symphony in performances this month of “The Resurrection Mixtape.”

With guest conductor Steve Hackman, The Phoenix Symphony is fusing Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur with classical music in a groundbreaking performance this month.

“The Resurrection Mixtape” will take place from Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19 at Symphony Hall, 75 N. 2nd St., in Phoenix.

Recordings such as Biggie’s “Juicy,” “Hypnotize” and “Who Shot Ya” and Tupac’s “Changes,” “Ghetto Gospel” and “California Love” are interpolated in thematically linked mashups that speak of hard roads, ravaged communities, gangster life and letting loose, according to a press release.

Local hip hop organization, the Furious Styles Crew, will perform a pre-party cypher in the Symphony Hall lobby one hour before each concert.

Hackman – a composer, conductor, producer, DJ, arranger, songwriter, singer and pianist – will lead the Symphony into a transformative exploration of life, death, legacy, struggle and triumph.

Mixed with Biggie and Tupac is Mahler’s “Resurrection Symphony,” considered one of the greatest symphonies of all time. As Act One begins, hear the music of Mahler as the voices of Biggie and Tupac are heard through the loudspeakers and each rapper prophesizes his own death. As the first movement comes to a climax, hear the two songs that iconify the East-West coast feud that many believe led to both rappers’ deaths, “Who Shot Ya” and “Hit Em Up.”

In Act Two, the focus turns to social justice and transcendence. After the opening of the Mahler fifth movement, the music slows to a complete halt. Over this stillness, hear Tupac’s enduring and poignant lyric: “Here on Earth, tell me: what’s a Black life worth?” Hear the painful pleas from both artists for equality and justice in songs like “I Wonder if Heaven Gotta Ghetto” and “Changes.”

“The Resurrection Mixtape” is the last show of The Phoenix Symphony’s 2023-24 season and the performance will prove to be a powerful conclusion not to be missed,” Phoenix Symphony President and CEO Peter Kjome stated.

Prior to the concerts, Hackman will join a Phoenix Symphony ensemble at Durango Juvenile Center as part of the Mind Over Music program. Symphony musicians, as part of the orchestra’s Community Engagement and Education’s Mind Over Music program that applies real-world experiences as musicians to teach STEM lessons to Valley students, have visited the Durango Juvenile Center since this past summer.

The musicians and Hackman will work with the students on a video project that will capitalize on the Friday, May 17 performance.

Overall, Phoenix Symphony musicians traveled more than 14,000 miles across Arizona in 2023 to volunteer in Community Engagement and Education activities.

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