As Kanye West’s controversial, much-debated The Life Of Pablo album finally escapes the surly bonds of Tidal and reaches other streaming services this week, L.A.’s Debut Orchestra Of The Young Musicians Foundation pays tribute to West’s uncompromising genius by combining his music with that of one of the brightest stars in the firmament of classical music: German composer Ludwig Van Beethoven. On April 16 at the Aratani Theatre in L.A.’s Little Tokyo, the Debut Orchestra will be giving a concert called Yeethoven, which promises, according to a new promotional video: “Six works by Beethoven. Six works by Kanye West. Orchestrated. Juxtaposed. Developed. Varied. Spliced together. All performed live by a 70-piece orchestra.”
The pairing of West and Beethoven is anything but arbitrary. “You wouldn’t intuitively think of Kanye West and Ludwig Van Beethoven as being similar musicians,” explains conductor Yuga Cohler. “Obviously, they work within very different traditions. But if you listen a little closer, you’ll notice a lot of similarities.” Cohler illustrates this in the preview video, in which his orchestra plays a mashup of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 with “Blood On The Leaves” from West’s Yeezus album. The narration explains that the two musicians are united by their “brashness” and “wild contrasts and thrashing juxtapositions within a single bar of music.” Despite the implied insult to West, dragging him down to the level of a guy who not only died in the 19th century but couldn’t even hear toward the end, this sounds like an entertaining and enlightening musical experiment.