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Arts and Entertainment

There's A Free Kanye West and Beethoven Orchestral Mashup Happening This Weekend

Ye vs. Be (Photo by Jerrit Clark/Getty Images)
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An orchestra of young L.A. musicians will perform a free concert that explores the common sounds of Kanye’s Yeezus album and the music of Beethoven.

This Saturday, April 16, the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra—which consists of 70 locally-based musicians ages 15 and 25 years old—will perform "The Great Music Series: Yeethoven" at the Artani Theater in Little Tokyo. While purists—both of classical and hip-hop—might shudder at the thought of mashing up the two artists, the team behind the show contends that there are compelling parallels between them worthy of exploration. The project was conceived of by Yuga Cohler, who will direct, along with co-creator and composer Stephen Feigenbaum. Both come from a classical background, but share a longtime appreciation for Yeezy.

The duo began the project by considering Kanye's dark and brooding 2013 album Yeezus, which stood out to their classical sensibilities. “There are a lot of things in the album more reminiscent of classical than pop or hip-hop,” Feigenbaum told the Huffington Post. “We tried to examine that and make that case that the commonalities across genres are more interesting than genre barriers."

They soon began seeing strong similarities to the work of Beethoven, which can incorporate themes that are both dark and also 'bizarrely uplifting' at times. “We quickly came to Beethoven as someone similarly controversial in his time, someone brash and aggressive,” Cohler told HuffPo. “Beethoven was rough around the edges. He’s one of the earliest examples of modernity, and often the audience really didn’t like it."

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The concert will begin by comparing Kanye and Beethoven songs side-by-side, and then gradually transition to moments where their music is fully integrated, blurring the lines between them. The show will conclude with a comparison between the last movement of Beethoven's “String Quartet No. 14” and Kanye’s opening track “On Sight.”

Here's a preview to give you an idea of what's to come:

Though Feigenbaum and Cohler insist that the exploration of the two musicians is musically focused, the Huffington Post points out that both Kanye and Beethoven are noted egoists. Take, for instance, one of Beethoven's oft-quoted lines, “There are many princes and there will continue to be thousands more, but there is only one Beethoven.”

While not everyone is excited about the Ye and Be mashup, notably Pitchfork Senior Editor Jayson Greene, we're intrigued by the juxtaposition.

"The Great Music Series: Yeethoven" will take place Saturday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. The event is free, but tickets are required and are available first-come first-serve starting at 6:00 p.m. More info can be found here.