Philharmonia Orchestra names pop singer as its artist in residence

Philharmonia Orchestra names pop singer as its artist in residence

News

norman lebrecht

September 21, 2022

Message from one of London’s most refined orchestras:

We are happy to announce Artist, Songwriter and Producer Love Ssega as our Artist in Residence 2022/23. Love Ssega is a founding songwriter and lead vocalist of Grammy Award-winning Clean Bandit. 

London-born Love Ssega has built a varied career collaborating across art forms. His music blends a mix of New Wave, 80s Hip-Hop, African polyrhythms and NYC Disco into smart, modern Pop and has been played all over the world.

Apart from the woke watchers at the Arts Council, who gets a kick out of this odd coupling?

The announcement follows the London Philharmonic’s advertisement earlier today for conductors of minority origin.

Comments

  • Clem says:

    Absolutely right. Mixing classic and popular? No good can come of it. I mean, look at all those guys Bartok, Liszt, Grieg, Copland, Vaughan Williams, Stravinsky… with their silly folk tunes. Who remembers those odd couplings? Purity is what we need.

    • Serge says:

      Can’t wait for Thomas Ades digging into hip hop making otherwise mediocre music immortal. It’s only a question of time, mind you.

    • Ed says:

      Brahms, Bartok, Liszt, Ssega. Great music! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUBwbfbOr8s

    • James Weiss says:

      Equating the use of occasional folk tunes in the works of great composers with choosing a contemporary rap singer as an orchestra’s “artist in residence” strikes me as probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read here.

      • Jedidiah says:

        Then you should get outside more often, James. Many of today’s rappers are drawing from folk tunes, classical composition, the sounds of urban life, internet culture, their lived experience and personal aesthetic in their work. Sounds pretty much like the exact same influences and process of great composers to me, just a different sonic expression. Calling Clem’s comment “ridiculous” just proves his point about purity in classical music. I’d encourage you to do some research on Love Ssega and perhaps even look more closely at the influences and lives of the great composers whose works you’re seemingly defending, and consider in what ways they might be artistically aligned.

    • Mark Desiderio says:

      Clem, I really don’t buy the analogy. The composers you mention turned toward folk and popular musical forms because their work led them in that direction. It was a choice freely made, dictated mainly by personal concerns and the idiosyncratic logic of their own artistic development. I think what upsets folks about stories like this one is that they smell of the managerial class, of decisions taken in the board room to broaden the marketshare and fatten the bottom line, or, at the very least, of the engineering of social change and aesthetic and outcomes by zealous but artistically naive executives.

    • Chill says:

      Mentioned folk tunes were composed by Bartok, Liszt, Grieg, Copland, Vaughan Williams, Stravinsky…not by singer from local pub.
      And that could be the main reason why we remember those “odd couplings”, don’t you agree?!

  • Bone says:

    This checks so many boxes that I’m shocked Philharmonia is the first UK orchestra to do this type of stunt.
    (“Stunt” because I don’t believe any of the core repertoire will be improved – not sure there is any other reason to make personnel moves).

  • Adrienne says:

    We know what’s going on here and the choice has little to do with music.

  • James Weiss says:

    Ghastly, just ghastly.

    • Jedidiah says:

      James, many of today’s rappers are drawing from folk tunes, classical composition, the sounds of urban life, internet culture, their lived experience and personal aesthetic in their work. Sounds pretty much like the exact same influences and process of great composers to me, just a different sonic expression. Calling Clem’s comment “ridiculous” just proves his point about purity in classical music. I’d encourage you to do some research on Love Ssega and perhaps even look more closely at the influences and lives of the great composers whose works you’re seemingly defending, and consider in what ways they might be artistically aligned.

      • Clare says:

        “drawing from”

        Really? They are simply doing what some rock groups have been doing for years – clumsily bolting on recognisable bits from the classical repertoire to give a superficial air of sophistication.

        The way that the great composers wove folk elements into their compositions was in an entirely different league.

        And yes, I am familiar with non classical music.

  • MR says:

    Congratulations and best wishes to Love Ssega and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

    My orchestra being the meruvina, a name invented for existing software and hardware, the most recent released composition and recording is Green Garnets, inspired by a song from what I believe is the finest album, Benefit, by the English band, Jethro Tull.

    Set to be released soon is Jasmine Perfume, the title from ancient Chinese poetry, my composition and meruvina realization inspired by Halsey, a remarkably gifted artist with a range of powerful rasas.

    http://azuremilesrecords.com/greengarnets.html

  • Dutchie says:

    Very curious to see where this leads to! Could be interesting, if the collaboration gets worked out on artistic grounds rather than entertainment value.

    • Will says:

      Heaven forbid classical music being entertaining. What do you think Handel and Mozart were writing with the intent of?

      • Dutchie says:

        Of course classical music often is, and should be, entertaining! My point is that such a collaboration could easily become something like ‘pop star with backing orchestra’. I’d like to see (and hear) how real artistic collaboration, based on shared artistic values, takes shape. The outcome should be entertaining of course, but not as sole goal.

  • Ex-Caverna says:

    Heaven forbid this collaboration comes up with something non-core audiences and young people want to listen to!

    Push boundaries whilst protecting the canon, be creative and business savvy, try new things and embrace failure. This is exactly what British orchestras should be doing. Bravi!

  • Paul Joschak says:

    Can’t imagine this is going to lead to anything approaching this amazing partnership:

    https://youtu.be/GaB9F3R9cIY

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    Deep Purple and the RPO (cond. Malcolm Arnold) performed and recorded Concerto for Group and Orchestra in 1970….

  • Talentnotrequired says:

    OK, hasn’t anyone else noticed he is black? A black rapper, that ticks two boxes that qualify him to be a resident artist with an orchestra. If it had been a black female rapper, it’d been a Hat-trick!

  • Wannaplayguitar says:

    Some of the most memorable highlights of my career (as a classical musician) have been collaborations with pop singers. Nobody is suggesting that Brahms, Bach, Beethoven should be terminally knocked off their perches, we can’t unsee what we have seen, likewise we can’t unhear what we have heard…..these old guys are still safe with us, but now let’s give more new creative voices a chance.

  • Jedidiah says:

    For those who don’t know the song Mozart’s House from Clean Bandit’s first album, (I daren’t call it a piece on his forum…) of which Love Ssega was a part of creating, they’re speaking to this exact issue. The fact that y’all are getting worked up about this when it’s taken a British orchestra a solid decade to engage him formally only validates the song’s message that much more.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ao9Dsi6s9w

  • Stan says:

    His music is just fine, but it is not classical music and there is no valid reason to invite him as ARTIST IN RESIDENCE.

    Previously, I attended Philharmonia concerts but as their funds are to be allocated in this way, I won’t be going to any more!

    There are better options for my time and support.

  • Edoardo says:

    Better not to translate to Italian the name “Love Ssega” 😀

  • Guest says:

    Those who harbour simplistic negative stereotypes of “black rappers” should check out Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka (stage name Love Ssega), M.Eng. Chemical Engineering, PhD Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Cambridge University:

    https://www.rarerecruitment.co.uk/rarerisingstars/Ssegawa-Ssekintu_Kiwanuka.php

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcYgek1DSJw

    His songs are pretty good too. The term Renaissance Man comes to mind.

    Those who want to build an impenetrable defensive wall around Classical Music are to be pitied. A hundred years ago they would have sought to ban the influence of jazz. The Philharmonia is more enlightened: “Initially launched in 2020, the residency programme is a collaboration between the Philharmonia and a highly acclaimed artist from a non-classical tradition which explores and celebrates the fusion of two differing art forms.”

  • MOST READ TODAY: