Event Review: Shift K3Y + London Mozart Players at Boxpark, Wednesday 19th July

By - Friday 28th July, 2017

What happens when you cross a big beats box with a chamber orchestra?

Photo by © Foden Photography 2017, used with permission.

What happens when world class classical musicians get in the mix with top electronic music producers? This was the question posed by an innovative collaboration between Croydon’s resident chamber orchestra, LMP (the London Mozart Players), and Shift K3Y at Boxpark.

The evening’s imaginative joining of musical worlds opened with the lush vocals of South Londoner George Cosby swooping above heart-stirring strings. LMP followed with a set including Argentine tango film themes and – of course – Mozart. A DJ set from Midlander artist-writer-producer Sam Manville, also known as FTSE, sent beats bouncing about the Boxpark rafters.

Topping the bill, Shift K3Y, a 24-year-old DJ and producer-singer-songwriter, and Lewis Shay Jankel, created a mesmerising mix which was orchestrated by Fiona Brice, who has collaborated with Placebo and Kanye West. It was a fittingly circular end to the #LMPOnTheMove programme, which began in May with a premiere of Brice’s piece, Relationships, at Matthews Yard, and included events at Lost Format Society, Croydon’s Central Children’s Library, Crystal Palace Overground Festival and the orchestra’s current home-from-home during the Fairfield Halls refurbishment, at St John The Evangelist church, before arriving at Boxpark for this exciting finale.

Photo by © Foden Photography 2017, used with permission.

James Fleury, founder and director of Nouvague and the marketing manager, for LMP said that “it’s been my ambition to put on a series of world class, cross-genre concerts in Croydon for years, and in my work for LMP and its inaugural #LMPOnTheMove tour, I saw an opportunity for us to explore Boxpark’s brilliant space early in its infancy in Croydon. Collaboration has always fuelled my musical interests. My favourite live show is still the Grammys because of the innovative musical pairings that make the show totally unique. To bring established artists like Shift K3Y and Fiona Brice to Croydon alongside emerging artists such as FTSE and George Cosby and the internationally renowned musicianship of LMP is something really special and valuable for our local cultural scene”.

This meeting of musical genres resulted in a meeting of audiences as well. A diverse cross-generational crowd gathered to share a unique, cutting-edge experience. Endorsements were tweeted from leading electronic music authorities such as Defected and EDM alongside local influencers Frantic Group and Jonny Rose. In my mind that makes us not hipsters, but ‘Croysters’.

Any risk-taking collaboration will have edgy moments, and amplifying an orchestra in a metal box full of chatting people is a hefty challenge. Whilst the thumping bass lines of electro music have evolved from noisy urban environments, the subtleties of the first two acts were lost in the audience hubbub. Nonetheless, the consummately experienced LMP players continued unfazed and the cheers indicated appreciation that they were playing ‘right here, right now’ in the Cronx.

Photo by © Foden Photography 2017, used with permission.

The finale of the evening was a storming success. The seated, grazing audience transformed into a big humming, dancing swarm in front of the stage when Shift K3Y appeared. As the summer sun melted across Croydon’s skyscrapers, Boxpark became a vast light ship carrying us across waves of sound. From the moment the orchestra opened with the theme of Shift K3Y’s track ‘I Know‘, people were singing along. Fiona Brice’s skilful orchestration peppered Shift K3Y’s mix with orchestral pizzazz, bringing new realms of depth, colour and tone to epic dance anthems including Architechs’ ‘Body Groove and MJ Cole’s ‘Crazy Love. It was a masterful mix of dance and orchestral music and the result was dynamic, uplifting and dance-inducing.

Whilst DJs are well used to the hands in the air treatment, members of the orchestra were clearly quite taken with the audience’s response, which may have been closer to that of Mozart’s audiences than we think. In letters after the premiere of his Paris Symphony in 1778, he described the audience going into ‘raptures,’ applauding and shouting “da capo!” (loosely, “more!”). Could this be the way to go for future classical concerts?!

Dance music is of course no stranger to lush string arrangements, but usually in a digital format. Following an Ibiza Prom in 2015, Pete Tong recorded Classic House with the 65-piece Heritage Orchestra to create a groundbreaking legacy for the genre. EDM artist BT said he struggled for years with those who told him that ‘people who like dance music will never like orchestral music’, before releasing Electronic Opus with composer Tommy Tallarico in 2015. This event put aside such divisive conventions, instead pointing to the innate connectedness of all music and audiences.

Photo by © Foden Photography 2017, used with permission.

Reflecting on the evening’s success, executive director Julia Desbruslais of LMP said: “#LMPOnTheMove 2017 has just been brought to a conclusion with an amazing performance at Boxpark on Wednesday evening. The aim of the project has been to discover new venues, to make collaborations with artists of all ages and genres, and genuinely reach and build a brand new audience. At Boxpark, Mozart sat comfortably with listeners alongside the set by Shift K3Y and the touchingly tender voice of George Cosby. It was a reminder that music is a common language, a way of connecting and resonating with all, irrespective of experience or knowledge. I always knew that Croydon was brimming with opportunities, receptive to new possibilities and full of talent to be discovered. We haven’t been disappointed and we are already enthusiastically planning for #LMPOnTheMove 2018”.

Bravo for this bold and brave collaboration between ingenious artists willing to create encounters between different musical genres and their audiences. As the lead of the orchestra, Simon Blendis said: “at the end of the day, it’s all just music”.

If you‘re feeling that you missed out, you can watch the livestream here.

LMP is currently crowdfunding to commission the #AnthemForPeace, an inclusive piece of music which will form the centrepiece of events at Croydon’s first Festival of Peace in June 2018. Find out how you can be part of it here.

Katie Rose

Katie Rose

Katie Rose - Singer, Composer, Conductor, Writer - Katie loves singing and helping people sing. Described by the Guardian as a 'fine singer' and by fRoots magazine as an 'eye (and ear) opener,' she has released three albums. Committed to creating uplifting, inclusive experiences of singing, Katie has led singing sessions in hospitals, hospices, festivals and community choirs across London. Convinced of the power of music to make waves in the world she has conducted mass choral events for Sing for Water and is directing Croydon's first Festival of Peace 2018. For more information visit www.therosewindow.org

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  • Anne Giles

    Sounds interesting, though we would never go to a gig where audiences were expected to stand.