On October 28, eleven Ithaca High School orchestra students, under the direction of Bill Makin, performed as backup musicians for hip-hop duo Black Violin at the Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY. The students spent the afternoon in rehearsals, learning what it’s like to play backup for a very different type of performance - one with a DJ, special effects lighting, a fog machine, and many amplifiers!
“It was a new style of music that I’ve never played before, so it was a really new experience,” said 10th-grader Isabel Chang. “At first, it was scary because we were on a big stage with a lot of bright lights and loud music around us...Eventually, the crowd was clapping and dancing, so we felt more comfortable with it.”
The student performers included: Isabel Chang, Nick McGuire, Diva Shrivastava, Jessandra Bender, Walaa Alshoffe, and Madeleine Wang on the violin; Kalena Yearwood, Ben Nathabheem, and Zoe Galgoczy on the viola; Andrew Lim on the cello; and Kate Keresztes on the bass.
Black Violin is comprised of violist Wil B. and violinist Kev Marcus, two classically trained string players. Together with DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes, Black Violin offers a unique blend of classical music and hip-hop that helps defy stereotypes and break down barriers.
“When the orchestra and I played on the stage during the concert, the entire Black Violin ensemble, along with the crowd’s cheers and enthusiasm, gave such a special vibe and experience that could only be created with Black Violin,” said Wang.