The commanding concrete hall of Dangrove, the architecturally impressive warehouse that’s home to arts philanthropist Judith Nielson’s White Rabbit Collection when it’s not on show in the gallery, has played host to dramatic short movie showcasing Ensemble Apex’ latest lockdown work.
Featuring 30 of our most exciting young classical musicians decked in prison-like orange garb, Shostakovich Made Me Hardcore looks like a cross between the dystopian future of Hunger Games and the lockdown vibes of Orange is the New Black. What it sounds like, though, is sublime, fusing classical composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Richard Strauss with a synthy '80s film score sound. Lit by dramatic strobing neon red light, caressing sculptural works by contemporary Chinese artist Gu Wenda, it's a look. The performers are all appropriately socially spaced, but will hit you in the feels from a digital distance.
The performers, conducted by Ensemble Apex artistic director Sam Weller, include violin soloist Anna Da Silva Chen, Tiger Chou on bassoon, Pei Yin Xu on horn, Noah Oshiro on the cello and Linh Nguyen on double bass. The new composition was created by Lewis Mosley, and the slick short whipped up by production company Entropico, who create music videos as well as films.
Weller says the film sprang from an idea for the 2020 season trailer, before that got sideswiped into next year by you know what. “The video and new piece of music has become a symbol of artistic solidarity and a statement of hope and strength from young classical musicians in these uncertain times.”
He’s impressed by Mosley’s seamless fusion of their envelope-pushing classical performance and electronica back-up. “I have always admired Lewis’ quest for uniqueness. Motifs have been taken from Strauss’ epic tone poem ‘Eine Alpensinfonie’, which documents the monstrous journey of a climber in the Bavarian Alps. He’s paired that with sweeping synthetic colours, creating a stark comparison to both the beauty of nature and industrial life.”
Dubbing the film a bold statement on the future of orchestral music, Weller added that history has shown young people have the power to create great change. “Ensemble Apex is powered by remarkable young people.”
Watch the video of Shostakovich Made Me Hardcore above. It also functions as a trailer for Ensemble Apex’ upcoming digital season, with more performances appearing weekly. For more info and to stream new films each week, head to their Facebook page.