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CHIME Students explore nontraditional music making with composer Gabriel Prokofiev

Prokofiev and music director Etienne Abelin perform for Proctors CHIME students

One of the many perks of being a CHIME student: sometimes you get a surprise performance from a world-renowned composer.

ESYO welcomed Gabriel Prokofiev on Wednesday, October 26 to the CHIME class at Proctors. Prokofiev is a composer, producer, DJ and Artistic Director of the Nonclassical record label and nightclub. Among many other works, he composed two Concertos for Turntables and Orchestra, one for Bass Drum and orchestra, and a remix of Beethoven's 9th Symphony for orchestra and electronics. And in case you wondered: Gabriel is the grandson of legendary composer Sergej Prokofiev (think "Peter and the Wolf”).

Composing music that both embraces and challenges western classical traditions, Gabriel Prokofiev has emerged as a signifProkofiev speaking to CHIMEicant voice in new approaches to classical music at the beginning of the 21st century. After completing his musical studies at Birmingham and York Universities, and dissatisfied with the seemingly insular world of contemporary classical music, he developed a parallel music career as a dance, grime, electro and hip-hop producer. This background in dance music combined with his classical roots gives his music a unique and truly contemporary sound. 

“There’s all these different sounds. Some of the sounds are done with keyboards, but some of the sounds are sound effects that I’ve recorded with a microphone.” Prokofiev played an example of this in one of his pieces where he recorded the sound of plucking a piece of string, stirring broken glass, and simply rubbing his hands together. “You don’t have to use just violins or keyboards to make music. You can use any sound you like.”

Prokofiev performed three original pieces with ESYO music director Etienne Abelin, with Prokofiev on keyboard and computer and Abelin on violin. The pair will also perform in concert together in Boston on Friday, Oct 28.

“I’m interested in trying to change the limits of classical music. It doesn’t have to all be just sitting down in a concert hall; it doesn’t have to be just the traditional view,” said Prokofiev to the students. “Classical music is for everybody, and it’s a shame when people who don’t know about it don’t get to hear it. And I would recommend to you guys, if you already have some music you’re learning, you could go to an open mic or a venue that’s not classical and you could share your music and people will be very pleased to hear it. You shouldn’t feel that classical music always has to be presented in a concert hall. It could be played anywhere. There are no rules.”