Category Archives: inspiration

When Mozart met Cardi B:  Outside the Box with Black Violin

Violin music can be soothing and entertaining, and the violin is a beautiful instrument.  I remember for one year during middle school that I attempted to learn to play the violin.  I would practice but just couldn’t seem to get the sound right.  It sounded more like grating and I didn’t feel encouraged to try because it wasn’t coming naturally, and I knew my Mom couldn’t afford lessons or to rent the violin. So why bother, right?

Not so fast with that line of thinking. I should have stuck with it because those early memories came flooding back a few Sundays ago as I listened to classical music with hip-hop influence performed by two very talented African American men, Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste, of Black Violin along with the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra.

This experience was a breathtaking musical treat that included the two violinists along with DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes helping to liven the illusion of a underground classical concert party scene (if there is such a thing).  The laid back vibe was set to tempt emotional sensibilities that included Wilner belting out smooth vocal tunes and Kevin charmingly hyping the crowd with his infectious smile and personality. The music was romantic and simultaneously robust while capturing the urban rhythmic essence of Cardi B over Mozart and Bruno Mars and the old school sounds of Michael Jackson and Boys II Men in some of their music.

My mind was all over the place thinking about what great role models these men are in supporting music education for our youth and showcasing the uniqueness of culture, music and art. Kevin and Wilner were able to conceptualize the idea of Mozart being hip and capturing the ingenuity and improvisational versatility of music as a multi-genre art form referred to as “classical boom.” A beautiful experience and powerful expression of what musical genius looks like when limits and stereotypes are removed.

Below is a short video of some of the performance.  Hope you enjoy and plan to check out Black Violin for yourself.