‘SIC Beatz’ full of flair

The production of “SIC Beatz” seeks to push back against the increasingly common perception of classical music as being inaccessible or elitist.
The production of “SIC Beatz” seeks to push back against the increasingly common perception of classical music as being inaccessible or elitist. Photo by Jacob Geiger.

What if the music of Beethoven and Mick Jagger had a love child?

The premiere of “SIC Beatz” — a  collaboration by SIC InC and the Yale Bands Percussion Group — might be the outcome. The show, which opens Thursday at the Off-Broadway Theater, is the first joint effort by SIC InC and the percussion ensemble, two groups in Yale’s undergraduate music scene. The concert will feature original pieces — the fusions of rock and classical music that usually characterize SIC InC’s productions — written and performed by classically trained musicians who are hoping to make classical music more accessible to today’s audiences, said director Nathan Prillaman ’13.

“The way that classical music is presented and consumed is broken,” Prillaman said.

Prillaman noted that over the past century, audiences have lost interest in classical music due to listeners’ inability to identify with the genre. He said he hopes to revitalize classical music by taking its various elements — wind instruments, piano and stylistic nuances among others — and blending them with components of rock, jazz, pop and electronic musical elements such as electric guitar and computer-generated sounds. This synthesis of classical and contemporary may make the classical style more approachable and understandable to the audience, Prillaman said.

Christian Schmidt ’14, a member of the Yale Bands Percussion Group, said audience members often have a false perception of classical music and its musicians as snobbish and conservative. “SIC Beatz” will provide the audience with an opportunity to see classical musicians in a new light, playing music outside of their normal repertoire, he said. The show’s fusion of genres has the potential to make classical music “hip” again, he added.

“[It has the] flair that people need to see in our fast-paced, pop-oriented culture,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the flying drumsticks and wide array of percussion instruments used in the show — including a vibraphone, bongos and a bass drum — add a visual component to the performance that brings it to a new level. He added that the introduction of live percussion to SIC InC’s electronically generated percussive sounds creates a thrilling audio effect.

“This show will be the fattest beats we’ve ever done, [because] we’ve got the percussionists,” Prillaman said.

The use of lighting in the show also contributes to the visual extravaganza. Prillaman said lighting effects are particularly essential for this show because they can help create a multisensory experience for the audience, allowing for a completely immersive experience that diverges from the monotonous setting of traditional classical concerts.

“It makes the performance an all-encompassing experience rather than just an auditory one,” said Leeza Ali ’15, who composed a piece for and will play in “SIC Beatz.”

Ali said the amplified sounds of thunderstorms and cavernous winds help convey the dark, frightening mood of one of her pieces, adding that lighting effects appeal to the audience’s senses, intensifying the emotions conveyed by the music and heightening those felt by the audience.

Three students familiar with SIC Beatz are eagerly anticipating the show’s premiere and expect it to be an enjoyable experience.

“I remembered seeing SIC InC during Bulldog Days, and they were, quite literally, sick,” Mahir Rahman ’16 said.

Free tickets to the event can be reserved on the Yale Drama Coalition’s website.

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