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Rashaad Newsome gives ‘Carmina Burana’ a pulsing hip-hop remix

Rashaad Newsome gives ‘Carmina Burana’ a pulsing hip-hop remix

June 30, 2017 // by Jaime DeSimone

I didn't expect to listen to Carmina Burana by German composer Carl Orff on repeat as part of my research for Synthesize: Art + Music. But I did.


Controverse Performs with The Conductor by Rashaad Newsome at MOCA Jacksonville from MOCA Jacksonville on Vimeo.

Now, I find myself humming along to the opening drums, choir, and horns that slowly build in “O Fortuna,” the opening poem set to music as a part of Orff's “Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi.” Why was I absorbing the rhythm and pulse of this perennial favorite? Because Rashaad Newsome synchronizes existing music videos of such legendary figures, as Lil' Kim and The Notorious B.I.G, to the classical score in The Conductor. The final complex montage explores modern-day heraldic gestures in popular culture.

As part of MOCA Jacksonville's exhibition preview, Newsome invited emerging rapper Controverse to perform in front of the video. For Newsome, The Conductor is a portrait of hip-hop culture and incomplete without this initial performative element, where one watches Controverse's gestures activate the video montage behind him.

The original performance occurred on June 1, 2017, in MOCA Jacksonville's third floor galleries. If you missed it, then watch this documentary video. Synthesize and Newsome's The Conductor are on view at the Museum through September 24. 

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