WTF is a DJ doing in the Philharmonic?

WTF is a DJ doing in the Philharmonic?


norman lebrecht

March 01, 2017

The Hong Kong Philharmonic seem rather proud of this live collaboration with a DJ.

Some of the players seem to think otherwise.

Watch their faces on the video.

Any complaints should be addressed to the music director, Jaap Van Zweden.


  • Max Grimm says:

    “Any complaints should be addressed to the music director, Jaap Van Zweden.”

    It could be argued that any complaints should be addressed to the composer, Anthony de Ritis.
    As for the “WTF is a DJ doing…”, don’t forget about this – – Norman.

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    Sir Mix-a-Lot he ain’t.

  • Save the MET says:

    Zweden is the new NY Phil MD, oy.

    • NYMike says:

      JvZ was the choice of both the Phil’s board and its musicians. Have you ever heard/watched him conduct??

  • Shankha Mitra says:

    Surely even by DJ standards he can’t be that good.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    The inclusion of a DJ is a traditional form of American folk music. This sort of thing falls squarely in line with masterworks of the past. No one complained when Takemitsu tried combining traditional Japanese folk instruments with Western orchestras, why would we complain now? This is forward looking music, and it will reignite the youth’s interest in what serious concert music should be. I only regret that glo-sticks and go-go dancers was not included in the ensemble.

  • Mervon Mehta says:

    From the short clip provided it is difficult to draw any conclusions. As for the musicians’ faces, are they really any different from musicians’ faces anytime a soloist is playing an extended cadenza? For a very successful combination of classical music and DJ look no further than the Afiara Quartet and DJ Skratch Bastid from Koerner Hall’s 21C Festival a couple of years back. Go to and click on fourth concert from the bottom. Four new string quartets were premiered, the DJ then did a remix of each one and each composer then wrote a ‘response’ for quintet (string quartet and DJ). The project is also featured in the recent documentary “What Would Beethoven Do?”

  • V.Lind says:

    WTF is he doing? Making a hell of a racket to no effect. I have never heard such ghastly rubbish in all my life.

  • herrera says:

    Don’t be such a luddite.

    1) Why should pre-recorded electronic sounds/music — which is omnipresent and entirely accepted in modern and contemporary music — be somehow “better” than having a live person manipulating the very same electronic sounds/music?

    2) A lot of Millennial composers use DJs in their works. Get with the times, bruh. This ain’t your grandfather’s music.

    3) The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony played one such composition by Mason Bates.

  • Gennady says:

    dr Mengele of classical music

    • Dr Presume says:

      Really? Equating “someone putting some modern electronic instruments in an orchestra” with “Nazi experimentation during the holocaust”? Absolutely f***ing shameful…

      • Gennady says:

        have you ever heared about metaphor? please experiment with modern electronic instruments in symphony orchestra but please don’t destroy what was created by another people

  • John Borstlap says:

    A music director is not entirely responsible for everything that is being produced by or with the orchestra. And many orchestras desperately try to bridge the gap between their performance culture with its specific repertoire and younger generations of listeners. They simply try-out things and see whether it works or not – depending upon the expectations.

    Classical music addresses, most of it at least, the listener’s interiority, as an alternative to the outside world, not as a reflection of it. Classical music is a psychological art form and the high quality repertoire is capable of engaging interiority as effectively as it did in the period when it was written, because human inner life is not dependant upon cultural or historical differences, which are on the outside.

  • Alexander says:

    Still pondering what could the acronym WTF mean – “watch their faces” ( as it is stated in the text) or something more expressive 😉 😉 😉

  • Michael MacLeod, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra says:

    The HK Phil was proud to present this “Classic Insights” educational concert in tandem with the exhibition in Hong Kong of the Kinsey Collection – Art and History of the African-American experience. Our concert, conducted by Jung-Ho Pak, featured words and music which explored that experience and its influences and intersection with orchestral music.

    We began with some music by the “Mozart Noir”, the Chevalier St Georges, heard spirituals, jazz, music by Gershwin, and then moved on to the present day, with the addition of turntables and a mixing desk to the orchestra. It was performed to a highly appreciative audience; and we see nothing in the behaviour of our musicians which cannot be observed in moments of rest (for example a soloist cadenza) in any standard repertoire performance by any orchestra.

    DJ Spooky is an acclaimed artist who has worked with Iannis Xenakis, Ryuichi Sakamoto, the Kronos Quartet and many other renowned figures in the music world. We were delighted to present him for this special project.

  • nw says:

    I appreciate the official response, but this clip is cringe-worthy. Maybe other parts of the concert were more successful. Maybe this is not representative of the artists involved. I realize all art is subjective, but simply, in my opinion, this is s***.

    I’m personally a fan of both classical music and electronic music, and am very interested in combining traditional/acoustic sounds with electronic sounds and production. But somehow, throwing an ipad-dubstep break into Beethoven seems like the laziest way of doing that, and even in isolation (not considering the context) his performance here was pretty whack — more like youtube demo quality as opposed to symphony orchestra level.

    Just my opinion: Swing and a miss. It happens.

  • Wai Kit leung says:

    Sorry I can’t even bear listening to the entire clip. I wonder what the reaction of the Hong Kong audience was. (I am from Hong Kong)

  • Stanley Slome says:

    At age 89, dare I ask: Whatever became of melody in much of modern music?

  • DB says:

    You must have missed this Royal event then:

  • Stanley Slome says:

    Van Buuren appears to offer a milder form what is called trance music and, according to
    Wikipedia, incorporates elements of classical music. To my ears it is superior to rock, rap and hip hop., which largely depend on the spectacle of prancing about a stage by performers. Perhaps an estimated one per cent of trance music’s audience might be
    attracted to classical music that has strong rhythms and melodies. Beethoven’s Seventh and Carmina Burana along with a lot of Offenbach might be of use.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The efforts of getting this 1 % into the concert hall for classical music seems to be largely out of proportion to the profile damage such efforts may create which will keep-out many more percentages.