The Classical Crossover Genre – Toronto Corporate Event Singer

The classical crossover genre is a hybrid of music that fuses both the styles of classical and popular. Naturally, it has mass appeal as it is able to mesh these two different styles of music. Many purists have criticized classical crossover artists stating that they are “wanna be opera /classical singers” treading a thin line between two genres.

Actually, if you look back to the start of operatic pop music in the mid 90’s it was actually nationally acclaimed opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti who was the godfather of this genre and spearheaded this idea of combining these two genres in his concert series “Pavarotti and Friends”. Between 1992 to 2003, he hosted 10 concerts in which he shared the stage with pop superstars like Sting, Celine Dion, James Brown, Michael Bolton and others. Throughout these concerts, it would be a combination of Pavarotti’s unique and powerful voice taking on pop classics combined with these pop stars putting their take on classical or operatic pieces. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t but it definitely sent a message to music executives that there was a demand, and an audience, for music that bridged poplar and the classical music styles.

Pretty soon this gap was bridged as singers such as Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban started emerging with a new pseudo classical style of music that that literally and figuratively hitting the right notes and gaining a loyal following. This in return spawned a multitude of artists such as Sarah Brightman, Russell Watson, Hayley Westerna and Charlotte Church and pretty soon, the classical crossover genre was a legitimate music category. Even reality talent shows were being dominated by classical crossover singers which spoke volumes about the popularity of the genre at the time. Some of the biggest names for both the Britain and America’s Got Talent series in the mid 2000’s were Paul Potts, Neil E Boyd and Susan Boyle who were singing many of the classical crossover standards at the time as they advanced through the competition.

Singers weren’t the only ones making waves in this new musical category as a number of violinists, trumpeters and pianists broke the mold and started putting a classical twist on many popular and top 40 music songs as well. Trumpeter Chris Botti, violinist Vanessa Mae and The Piano Guys have all made name for themselves and have even collaborated with many of the marquee singers in this genre.

Personally, this genre of music has always appealed to me from the first time I heard it. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was definitely influenced by Top 40 and popular music. Artists such as Brian McKnight, Boys II Men, Shai and Michael Jackson were on regular repeat and filled many of my cassette tapes back in the day. However, from attending St. Michael’s Choir School, I also had a strong appreciation for classical music. I guess you could call it the best of both worlds and I consider it a blessing as I was raised to appreciate good music.

One of the features of the classical crossover genre that I absolutely love is its ability to juxtapose the instrumentation and orchestration of classical music with the melodies of popular mainstream songs and give it a complete makeover. Examples of this would be Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (also known as La Prima Volta) and Tony Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart” (also known as Regresa a Mi).

As a performer, this has been to my benefit as I have been able to put together a musical repertoire for my clients, which has been diverse and has crossed a number of genres. I guess whenever you can include both Schubert’s Ave Maria and Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life” on the same set list then you know you are providing a unique musical experience for your audience.

In conclusion, I just want to commend all of the artists who have pushed the boundaries of music, despite the criticism, jealously and negativity expressed by those who fear change. Since music is an art form, it is constantly changing and evolving. I’m pretty sure that as long as musicians keep pushing the envelope with their creativity, many more beautiful musical genres will be developed in the future.

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