Gabriel Prokofiev – Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra

2007

“Five Stars – A terrific piece… inventive, inherently musical and so provocative” ­Musical Opinion

“Highbrow classical/hip-hop mashup… beat-juggling set against Stravinsky-like punches” Uncut

Commissioned by Chimera Productions in 2007, the first performance was given on 26th July at Scala (UK), by the Heritage Orchestra and DJ Yoda (turntables), conducted by Jules Buckley.

Composer Gabriel Prokofiev explains, “From Edgard Varese’s experiments with reel-to-reel and ‘organised sound’, to the proto-sampling of Musique Concrete led by Pierre Schaeffer in the late 1950s, composers have a rich history of manipulating recorded sounds that stretches back long before Kool Herc or Grandmaster Flash scratched their first records.

The quest for musical expressiveness in electronica has led the instrument that first came to life at the legendary Bronx Block Parties of the ‘70s taking centre stage at the pinnacle of classical performance, a concerto.”

Prokofiev has created sounds for the DJ, taking samples from orchestral instruments to keep the overall sound organic and integrated. The score gives the DJ rhythmic and pitch guidelines but much of his part is improvised, harking back to the very earliest type of concerto where a lot of scope was left for improvisation.

This truly original composition has featured in over thirty-two performances in nine countries including 2016: Mr Switch & Junior Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra; 2015: Mr Switch & Jyväskylä Symphonica (FI); Mr Switch & BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; Mr Switch & MDR Sinfonieorchester (DE); 2014: DJ Madhatter & Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (US); 2013: DJ Noize & Copenhagen Philharmonic (DK); 2012: DJ Madhatter & Seattle Symphony Orchestra (US); Mr Switch & Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (VE); 2011: Mr Switch & National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (BBC Proms – televised on BBC 2); 2010: DJ Madhatter & Present Music Ensemble (US); Mr Switch & BBC Concert Orchestra; 2009: Mr Switch & Heritage Orchestra; 2008: Beni G & Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

In 2015 the BBC announced the inclusion of Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra into their Ten Pieces initiative for secondary schools. Led by BBC Learning and BBC Performing Groups, Ten Pieces focuses on classical music and creativity.

Venue – The Vinyl Factory

In 2009 Chimera Productions and Nonclassical released an album featuring the five movements of the concerto as performed by DJ Yoda and Heritage Orchestra, followed by eleven inspired remixes that twist and contort Prokofiev’s work using modern production techniques. Remixers include Heavy Deviance, Monster Bobby, Li’ll Bo Tweak, Kreepa and the composer himself.

WINNER – Independent Music Awards Best Contemporary Classical Album (2010)