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Favorite Classical Crossover performer and why

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Showing 1-25 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 28, 2011, 9:46:46 AM PST
Ehkzu says:
Josh Groban? Sarah Brightman? Andrea Bocelli? Hayley Westenra? Or my own favorite, Jacqueline Marie Evancho?

I nominate Evancho for her depth. Lots of singers have beautiful voices--though Evancho's is outstanding solely in that regard. But it's hard to believe how a 10 year old child with an idyllic existence (so far at least) can bring such profundity to the content of the songs she sings.

And it's as if two people inhabit her body--there's the cheerful child (albeit a preternaturally diplomatic one) you see in interviews and candids...then she steps up to the mike, opens her mouth, and suddenly you see someone else in her eyes--and then, at the end of her performance, she grins and waves with both hands as the happy child takes charge again. It's downright spooky, but I've seen it so often I know that's her.

I guess that's the nature of genius. Every genius still eats and sleeps and breathes like the rest of us. Their genius doesn't show every second--like as not it just comes out when they're doing the thing they do that their genius is focused on.

Still spooky, though. Especially in a little child--heck, she's even short for her age...

Posted on Mar 24, 2011, 11:35:24 PM PDT
Laust Cawz says:
I'm not sure if he qualifies strictly as "Classical Crossover", but Conlon Nancarrow composed music for player piano after he decided to create music too fast to be played by human hands. These compositions have been performed by orchestras, but they're markedly slower than the ones done on actual player pianos (which are available on I-Tunes).

Posted on Mar 25, 2011, 2:50:05 AM PDT
Hip O Critic says:
Mike Oldfield - "Tubular Bells" and "Music of the Spheres" bookend some brilliant modern classical music.

Posted on Mar 25, 2011, 6:48:43 AM PDT
Hinch says:
Don't know if you'd call it classical crossover, but Sting has a dvd LIVE IN BERLIN, with an orchestra, and it's really good.

Posted on Jan 17, 2012, 5:03:51 PM PST
Josh Groban is my favorite. His albums got me hooked on the genre.

Posted on Jan 17, 2012, 5:22:22 PM PST
rik emmit ex guitar vocalist from triumph think about it !!!!!!!!

Posted on Jan 17, 2012, 6:12:22 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 17, 2012, 6:45:11 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2012, 6:39:00 PM PST
D. Zahn says:

Shawn Lane - Kaiser Nankarrow

Posted on Jan 17, 2012, 6:47:31 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 18, 2012, 8:02:36 AM PST]

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 1:49:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2012, 2:29:45 AM PST
Sarah Brightman's my fave of the lot, I have several of her albums. She's been a bit more creative and unique in the genre than others have.

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 5:44:30 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 18, 2012, 8:02:47 AM PST]

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 5:51:18 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 27, 2012, 3:50:25 PM PDT]

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 7:50:12 AM PST
vivazappa says:
I'll take the guy who wrote Tocatta...Emerson tears that one up...same thing with Aaron Copland's Hoedown...

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 8:03:39 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 18, 2012, 11:06:51 AM PST]

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 9:27:35 AM PST
Stratocaster says:
vivazappa says: I'll take the guy who wrote Tocatta.

That would be the greatest musician to ever live - JS Bach
And yes, actually he's had quite a few "crossover" hits in the last few decades, even though he's been dead for almost 300 years!

Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor (Emerson Lake and Palmer plus many others)
Bouree in E minor (Jethro Tull's "Bouree" from the Album Stand Up)
Air on the G string (Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale")
Minuet in G (The Toys "A Lover's Concerto") A Lover's Concerto

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 9:37:40 AM PST
Carlita says:
I like Josh Groban very much, but my all-time favorite is Eric Carmen, both when he was with Raspberries and after he went solo. He was influenced by the Left Banke, another one of my faves from the mid to late '60's. And there are those, like the Four Seasons' "Don't You Worry 'Bout Me" and the Toys' "A Lover's Concerto," that deserve mention as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2012, 9:39:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 19, 2012, 12:36:57 PM PST
The lack of unoriginal material in the genre is why a few - examples: Josh Groban, Hayley Westenra - have branched out into songwriting lately.

It's like the labels only seem to have a track list of about 30 songs to choose from. They keep pumping out the same old tired covers of 'Time To Say Goodbye' and 'You Raise Me Up' and 'Nella Fantasia' on just about every new crossover album.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2012, 9:42:58 AM PST
<The lack of unoriginal material in the genre is why a few - examples: Josh Groban, Hayley Westenra - have branched out into songwriting lately.>

Glad to hear that...may be a good thing for the genre.

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 9:51:41 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2012, 9:52:51 AM PST
Speaking of great classical crossovers, this CD by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe is outstanding:


And here's another good one by Malcolm McLaren:


Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 9:52:05 AM PST
Stratocaster says:
Steve Hackett

I guess technically he would be more of a Rock crossover. Started in rock (guitarist for early Genesis) and now composes and performs his own classical guitar concertos, interludes, and symphonia

Steve Hackett -A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Steve Hackett - The Underworld Orchestra: Metamorpheus
Steve Hackett - Tribute to Andres Segovia

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2012, 9:58:32 AM PST
Mary-Jess is one of the newest singers in the genre. I heard one of her songs on Pandora recently. She's signed to Decca, but, unlike some of the other classical crossover artists on their roster, she was given original material for her debut (several of which she co-wrote) and she got to include Oriental flavors in the music.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2012, 10:15:25 AM PST
I checked out the link...very nice. Thanks for the recommendation, the woman can really sing! =o)

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 11:14:22 AM PST
Some of y'all obviously don't understand the term Classical Crossover.

Here's some necessary info about it:

Classical Crossover is known under a number of different names, including classical pop, popera, operatic pop, neoclassical, contemporary classical or even just crossover. Many just refer to it as classical whilst others completely dismiss the idea that the genre exists. All of these terms or ideas are either problematic or are simply incorrect.

First of all, neoclassical and contemporary classical are already well established sub-genres that refer to completely different movements within Classical music. The term crossover on its own, is simply a descriptive, as any artist in any genre can crossover into other genres. Labelling artists as `crossover' does not give their sound any identity away from other crossover genres.

Popera or operatic pop could be seen as a sub-genre within Classical Crossover, but the genre is still so small, it is quite unneccessary. The reason this label does not work generally is because not all Classical Crossover artists sing operatically. Indeed, many do not even sing at all. Although many artists do sing arias, they never feature as a majority, as many artists opt to sing traditional standards that do not require operatic vocals.

There is not actually anything linguistically wrong with classical pop, it just has not really caught on. The term pop, afterall, means popular, and the term "crossover" in the genre context literally means to cross previously unpopular music over into the popular realm. The reason this term is not used is probably due to the astonishing speed that Classical Crossover entered into the music industry. Because no genre was established, many people opted to describe what techniques artists used to change their sound, rather than just slotting it with one name. This is true of all new movements, but usually, they happen gradually, which was not the case with Classical Crossover.

To critics, albums like Vanessa-Mae's The Violin Player, Sarah Brightman's Timeless and Russell Watson's The Voice were simply light classical music, crossing over into public consciousness and into the charts. It is logical for the term to follow. Little was it known that this new technique was to be taken up by countless of other artists throughout the next decade.

Despite the same type of artists performing the same type of sound for this long, many purists are still indenial of its existence, simply labelling it at pop or easy listening (indeed, easy listening does seem to be its closest relative). Perhaps the label is premature as the genre has only enjoyed little over ten years of success and popularity, and despite its success, if you bring the term up to someone on the street, they have not heard of it. On the other hand, if you give somebody a few examples of who the genre's artists are, they will probably have a pretty good understanding of what the genre sounds like. The whole point of genres and categorisations are to acknowledge certain conventions, and Classical Crossover definitely has its own conventions.

Equally as damaging is putting Classical Crossover artists under the same umbrella as, for lack of a better term, "real" classical artists. Many classical enthusiasts are offended by the likes of Katherine Jenkins being put alongside Maria Callas, and criticisms emerge about how Jenkins, Bocelli and Watson cannot sing. Jenkins and Watson are not opera singers, and to compare their abilities to Placido Domingo, a full fledged opera singer, is incredibly unfair. Classical Crossover artists do not have the same aim as opera singers; their technique is different and are put to different uses. They therefore should not be compared, and therefore, should not be put in the same genre. If any of these artists should be judged, it should, at least, be against artists on their own level. You wouldn't compare a hip-hop singer against a soul singer, so why do it here?

The genre known as Classical Crossover is very recent but it has gained recognition in the US and the UK: the US has given it its own official chart, whilst the UK is splitting the classical charts in two as "real" classical music does not have a chance to chart when up against its crossover counterparts. It has also had an impact on the web, as it has its own websites and its own groups of social networking sites like Facebook, and Myspace. Many of the genre's artists also describe themselves using the Classical Crossover term. In short, as unsnappy as the name is, Classical Crossover is the term that has taken hold for this movement in music.

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 11:18:22 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2012, 11:20:13 AM PST
Here's some additional info:

Simply put, Classical Crossover is a term used to describe artists that adopt strong classical influences in their music, but ultimately they have an accessible and popular sound or a marketable image to reach out to a wider audience.

Due to it being a recent term and movement, it suffers from a lack of definition, with many people disagreeing as to what makes an artist Classical Crossover or not. It is important to understand that the word "crossover" in the term should not be taken literally. There is a distinct difference between "crossover" artists and "Classical Crossover" artists. "Crossover" is when an artist performs a certain type of music that is usually unpopular, but reaches a mass audience and achieves popularity.

The best example of this is when Luciano Pavarotti performed `Nessun Dorma' in 1990 for the FIFA World Cup. Opera was considered a type of music for the elite, and yet Pavarotti, a qualified and active opera singer, went on to become a massive commercial success. Thus he `crossed over' into the popular realm despite the fact that he did not perform popular music.

Classical Crossover did, indeed, take root from the Pavarotti situation in the sense that it made people realise that classical music could sell, but the Classical Crossover "sound" did not come from Pavorotti. Classical Crossover artists deliberately combine elements of pop music with classical, something that the likes of Pavorotti never did.

The musical conventions of Classical Crossover:
* Converting classical pieces into pop songs e.g. Vivaldi's "Winter" from his Four Seasons was adapted to 'River of Dreams' for Hayley Westenra's album Pure.
* Converting pop songs into classical pieces, this is usually done by turning original pop vocals into operatic vocals, changing English lyrics to another language (typically Italian) and/or given a classical arrangement. e.g. Sarah Brightman's `Il Mio Cuore Va', originally Celine Dion's `My Heart Will Go On'.
* Introducing drum machines into classical pieces. This convention is most typical of instrumentalists such as Vanessa-Mae, Bond and Myleene Klass.
* Track lists frequently consist of: traditional songs (e.g. `Danny Boy', `Scarborough Fair'), standards (e.g. `Over the Rainbow', `Bridge Over Troubled Water'), hymns (e.g. Abide With Me), classic showtunes (e.g. `Somewhere', `Music of the Night'), film scores ('Now We Are Free', `Nella Fantasia') and light classical pieces (e.g. Andrew Lloyd Webber's `Pie Jesu', all versions of `Ave Maria', `Panis Angelicus')
* Many singers in Classical Crossover attempt arias. They are always well known arias such as `Nessun Dorma', `Un Bel Di Vedremo', `Lascia Ch'io Pianga', O Mio Babbino Caro', `La Wally', `O Sole Mio', `The Flower Duet', `The Pearl Fishers Duet' and so on.
* Classical Crossover has developed its own standard repertoire, that is to say, a classical crossover artist originated a song, and then others covered it extensively. The most famous example is 'Time To Say Goodbye' (Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman) but there are others such as `You Raise Me Up' (Secret Garden/Josh Groban), `Nella Fantasia' (Sarah Brightman), `The Prayer' (Andrea Bocelli) and `Where the Lost Ones Go' (Sissel).
* Track lists consist mostly of cover songs in some form or other. It is rare for a Classical Crossover album to be mostly original, though most do contain at least one or two original songs. More aesthetic albums tend to have more.

Typically, unlike their classical counterparts, these artists must appeal to a mass audience to survive in the music industry. As is the case with all mainstream music, image and marketing are very important. Some artists may only include one convention, others may need to adopt several.
* The key market are mothers and people over the age of fifty. The genre has a whole attracts more females than males.
* The artist is attractive and is sexualised to appeal to younger generations (e.g. Katherine Jenkins, Vanessa-Mae, Bond).
* The artist has a clean cut reputation to appeal to the older generations (e.g. Hayley Westenra, All Angels, Aled Jones).
* Artist is given hype and buzz words e.g. Russell Watson was marketed as `The Voice', Charlotte Church `The Voice of Angel' and Hayley Westenra `Pure'.
* Artists are under sixteen years of age to appeal to the older generations and invoke feelings of paternal affection.
* Artists are promoted on morning/daytime television which is typically watched by mum's and the older generations.
* Classical Crossover albums tend to be released in the run up to Mother's Day and Christmas, as they make ideal gifts for parents and grandparents.
* Many artists have a short shelf life due to the previous point. Unless the artist is especially established, they have difficulty selling out of the peak seasons.
* Artists are increasingly a result of reality talent shows (e.g. Paul Potts, Faryl Smith, Jonathan Ansell, Rhydian Roberts). Simon Cowell has taken a shine to Classical Crossover as a money spinner since his success with Il Divo.
* The UK and East Asia are the most effective launch pads.
* Some artists have such a huge following, that they can do whatever they want (Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli) and none of these marketing conventions deliberately apply to them.

As with all genres, conventions overlap into different areas, but this is the rough guide as to what to expect from a Classical Crossover artist. All genres have conventions, but they also all contain artists that push boundaries and challenge conventions, so despite this guideline, do not assume that all Classical Crossover artists are merely products that adhere religiously to the above list. Even if they do follow the guidelines, they are good guidelines to make pleasing music! Which is the point of it all, of course.

Posted on Jan 18, 2012, 11:51:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 20, 2012, 11:39:37 AM PST
Like the critics, I consider classical crossover to be a sub-genre of classical.
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Discussion in:  Music forum
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Initial post:  Feb 28, 2011
Latest post:  Nov 15, 2012

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