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  • Chris Anderson

Doing Something New With Music

Part of the ethos of SSOCs is to do something different and that’s not limited to the choice of music. When we start up in January in my new place of residence we’ll be going for a more contemporary side of things. Rock, pop, musical theatre, modern twists on classical…don’t get me wrong I love conducting classical music but I want to open the doors to as many different people as I can and there’s already a plethora of classical groups around. In a concert I did last year a guest musician came up to me and congratulated me on a “fabulous job”. They went on to say how some conductors with whom he’d worked put themselves on a pedestal with a brand of “professional” or “semiprofessional” but all they do is conduct like they’ve just listened to the CD time and again. In this blog I explore some of the different ways I’ve used to do something new…and will continue to do so!


  • Arrangements for Different Instruments: Take a well-known classical piece and arrange it for different instruments or ensembles. For example, transcribe a symphonic work for a chamber ensemble, or arrange a piano composition for a string quartet. The change in instrumentation can bring out new nuances in the music.

  • Cross-Genre Fusion: Combine classical music with other musical genres, such as jazz, rock, or electronic. This fusion can create exciting and unexpected interpretations of classical works.

  • Remixes and Electronic Adaptations: Use electronic music production techniques to remix classical pieces. This approach can give classical compositions a modern and danceable twist.

  • Vocal or Choral Adaptations: Add lyrics and vocals to instrumental classical compositions. This can be a creative way to introduce a new dimension to the music and connect with a broader audience.

  • Mashups and Medleys: Create musical mashups or medleys that blend multiple classical pieces or combine classical with other popular songs. This can be an entertaining way to re-contextualise well-known melodies.

  • Improvisation: Encourage musicians to improvise on classical themes or within the framework of a classical piece. This can lead to spontaneous and unique performances.

  • Modern Visual Accompaniment: Pair classical music with contemporary visual art or multimedia presentations. This can create a multi-sensory experience that enhances the emotional impact of the music. This is something I’ve thought about and will venture into eventually.

  • Modern Dance Collaborations: Work with contemporary choreographers and dancers to create new choreography set to classical music. The visual element of dance can breathe new life into familiar compositions. If I can find a dance school locally who’d be up for doing stuff that’d be amazing!

  • Reinterpretation with a Cultural Twist: Infuse classical compositions with elements from different cultures. For example, incorporate elements of world music, traditional instruments, or rhythmic patterns.

  • Interactive Performances: Engage the audience by allowing them to participate in the performance. This can be through call-and-response, sing-alongs, or interactive elements.

  • Narrative and Storytelling: Create a narrative or story around a famous classical piece, turning it into a musical theatre or multimedia production.

  • Reverse Engineering: Deconstruct a classical composition and rearrange its sections in a new order or combine segments in novel ways to create a different listening experience.

Modernising famous classical works can not only make them more accessible to contemporary audiences but also honour the enduring creativity of the composers by showcasing their compositions in new and innovative ways. These approaches can help classical music remain relevant and captivating for new generations...but please don't expect too much of modernised classical music!

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