Classical Needs Pop Music to Stay Alive, Prokofiev's Grandson Says

Classic Arts News   Classical Needs Pop Music to Stay Alive, Prokofiev's Grandson Says
Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of Sergei Prokofiev, is convinced that classical music must team up with pop music to stay alive, The Guardian of London reports.

The younger Prokofiev, who until recently went by his patronymic Gabriel Olegavich, was born in 1975 and studied electroacoustic compostion and ethnomusicology at Birmingham University. After receiving his masters degree from the University of York, he switched his professional focus to underground dance music, later adopting aliases like Caspa Codina and Medasyn.

He now heads the successful disco-punk band Spektrum, which he co-founded with singer Lola Olafisoye in 1999.

"We'll get you moving some new electro shit and then drop the tempo and go into some quirky hip-hop or oldskool grooves, then bounce back into some acid house," said Prokofiev, discussing the band's eclectic style in Music Tower last year.

In 2003, he and Nick Phillips founded the label Nonstop Recordings, which the pair describes as "modern electronic rhythm'n'boogie," and the next year, he co-founded Nonclassical, a classical music label determined to broaden the genre's traditional audience.

Nonclassical's website describes itself as a "new record label dedicated to releasing music that is classical but not classical ... music that uses the instruments of the classical tradition but not in the most classical way ..."

"So many clubs and radio stations play the same stuff, but the general public can handle complicated music," the composer told Tony Naylor of the The Guardian.

Prokofiev, though, is cognizant when it comes to fusing classical with other genres.

"If you said anything was crossover, you'd be stoned to death," he said.

Nonclassical's first release features the young Elysian Quartet playing Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 1, which is remixed by DJs in accompanying tracks. Prokofiev previously worked with the ensemble in 2004, co-founding Chamber Music @ Cargo, a contemporary classical club night in east London.

The label's second and latest release features Ukrainian-born pianist GeNIA in John Richard's Suite for Piano and Electronics. (Footage of the pianist playing the work's Prelude is posted on YouTube.)

Prokofiev says he isn't on a mission for classical music, however, but calls it an "amazing tradition."

"There are things about it which are really special: the incredible instruments that have evolved, the performers who train like maniacs. Dancing to a mechanical beat is thrilling, but so is a really sensitive classical performance."

Prokofiev is currently working on a concerto for turntables and orchestra with the Heritage Orchestra and hip hop turntablist DJ Yoda.

Spektrum's latest single, Kinda New, is slated for release on September 10.

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