Steve Hackman and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Tchaikovsky x Drake” review

Tchaikovsky x Drake Courtesy of Schuster Center

Luke Osciak | Managing Editor

On September 23, the Dayton Philharmonic performed their latest show “Steve Hackman’s Tchaikovsky x. Drake,”. The show was an orchestral performance of a mash-up between Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5” and a collection of various songs from rapper and singer Drake. The concert is a part of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance’s 2023-2024 “Art that Moves” season.

This is not the first time conductor Steve Hackman has done a mash-up of music from a classical artist and a modern one. His other famous orchestral performances of this type are “Brahms X. Radiohead” and “The Resurrection Mixtape (Mahler X. Notorious BIG X. Tupac Shakur)”. 

At the beginning of the performance, the orchestra came out and began tuning their instruments. In the theater, sounds began to dispel from the instruments onto the audience. The crowd was a diverse mix of people. At the beginning of the show, the audience was asked to raise their hand if this was their first time being at a Dayton Philharmonic concert. The crowd was evenly split between first time concert goers and returning fans. 

Hackman came onstage followed by the main performers he was working with. On vocals were Malla Civetz, India Carney, Mario Jose and Jecorey Arthur. These four were there to sing all of the lyrics of Drake’s songs while the orchestra played the various classical reworkings of the beats in Drake’s music. 

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is a Russian composer most well known for his famous ballet scores such as “The Nutcracker”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Lake”. 

Aubrey Drake Graham is one of the most acclaimed artists in music history. Last August he broke The Beatles 55-year record for the most songs on the top five hits list in Hot 100 history. In January of 2021, he became the first artist to surpass 50 billion combined streams on Spotify. 

Both artists reached the peak of popular music in their careers, with Drake being one of the most dominant pop artists of today and Tchaikovsky being one of the most successful composers of the classical era. Each artist’s talents are in the ways that their music alternates between triumph and anguish. Their works encapsulate the feelings of joy or sadness only for those feelings to vanish from incessant reflection and neurosis. 

This fluctuation between triumph and anguish was the main connection that the orchestra was trying to get actress in their performance. The show started with a classical rendition of Drake’s “Started from the Bottom”. 

The crowd grew silent as darkness began to envelop the concept hall. A spotlight began to shine on Jecorey Arthur as he asserted to the audience

“Started from the bottom now we here”

The lyric by Drake commands the audience to imagine their lowest point of anguish only to inspire reflection on the present. It is a statement that perfectly captures the stylistic similarities of Tchaikovsky and Drake. Their music comes from the extreme egoism and emotional turbulence that comes from remembering an emotional experience. 

The concert continued onward between playing songs that showed the artists’ flights of fancy and ones that showed off despair. The orchestra performed different movements of Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5” with different Drake songs being played back to back in a row. The songs by Drake that were chosen were many big hits that he had over the course of his career such as “Hold On, We’re Going Home”, “Jumpman” and “God’s Plan”.

For anyone that enjoys Drake’s music, this concert was a dream come true. Drake began a tour this last summer to support his previous projects and to build hype around his latest album “For All The Dogs”. This concert was a great way to experience Drake’s music in a live setting. A ticket using my Dayton student ID made the price of a ticket go from $88 to $8. If you are looking for a pleasant, inexpensive date or activity, the Schuster Center is holding multiple other concerts before the end of the year.  

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