The Bronxville High School orchestra joined college and professional musicians onstage when they performed with the renowned Black Violin duo at a concert held Oct. 26 at the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College.
As part of a community outreach program, which was sponsored by the college’s music conservatory, the students accompanied violinists Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste, who blended classical and hip-hop musical arrangements. The group’s name, Black Violin, is taken from an album by jazz violinist Stuff Smith, whose work has had a significant influence on the duo’s approach to music.
“We were delighted to be invited to perform with Black Violin, both to enjoy playing the hip-hop arrangements of orchestral classics with a college orchestra and professional musicians, and to lend our support to Black Violin’s social action agenda,” orchestra director Denise Lutter said.
The duo has spent 10 years working to empower people of all ages, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, help them discover what connects them, break barriers that divide them and encourage others to follow their passions.
“Black Violin defies every stereotype of violinists, and by sharing their talents and their take on classical music with us and the audience, it inspired us to redefine what an orchestra can and should do,” said Sofia Ricciarini, a violinist and high school junior.
Junior Angie Pearson, a violinist, said she enjoyed playing the mixture of music genres, which included layering a Cardi B song on top of the theme from Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Junior Amanda Troy, a violinist, said the duo’s music appeals to people with different tastes in music, ethnic backgrounds and age groups.
“Black Violin encouraged the audience to do what they love despite stereotypes, and they made a statement about connecting with others just by adding rap beats to classical music,” said Elaina Poulos, a violist and sophomore.
Black Violin has accompanied Alicia Keys at the 2004 Billboard Awards, played for the 2013 Kids’ Inaugural Concert, which was attended by the Obamas, and has worked with Aerosmith, Lupe Fiasco, Tom Petty and Kanye West, among others.