Submitted by Christopher Nicholas.
In March of 2021 as the Covid-19 global pandemic raged, the Oakland-based hip-hop orchestra Ensemble Mik Nawooj (EMN) released a critically acclaimed new album, Death Become Life (stream it here). In celebration of the album release, EMN then participated in their first Edinburgh Fringe Festival virtual performance at Online@theSpaceUK, one of the top ten presenters at Fringe.
What they thought was just a good strategy to promote the album and test the European market turned out to be a surprise success. Even before the festival began, they were featured on the official Edinburgh Fringe trailer and Broadway World. Then the reviews started coming in. Their online pre-recorded video show has gotten all but one four star review out of five, every other one being five out of five, including a glowing praise from the BBC (Oh, I like this. I like this!). Naturally, SpaceUK wants EMN back in August of 2022 for an in person presentation of their latest and the most ambitious project, Hip-Hop Orchestra Experience, which augments the group into a bona fide chamber orchestra replete with a French horn.
This Pacific Northwest tour is a golden opportunity to catch them before their Edinburgh Fringe debut to preview what will go down in Scotland as they will bring the augmented crew and most of the repertoires for the Fringe show.
In addition, EMN is filming a documentary on Method Sampling, a principle of sampling and reframing foreign rationales to come up with new systems. Method Sampling is at the heart of EMN’s work and has allowed them to achieve a true decolonization of aesthetics by omnivorously taking hip-hop and classical techniques to build their unique sound. This documentary will feature innovators of the Pacific Northwest and their work and how they’re using Method Sampling.
Ensemble Mik Nawooj is led by artistic director and classically trained South Korean composer JooWan Kim, who became increasingly disillusioned with Eurocentric concert aesthetics while studying music composition at Berklee College of Music in his 20s. Eventually, Kim found the missing ingredient and his ultimate inspiration in hip-hop, describing the epiphany he had upon hearing N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton for the first time. “I knew at that moment, I had to examine the underlying structures of hip-hop and create concert music with them,” Kim says. Ever since, Kim has been making music with his own multiracial and multi-genre crew—consisting of classical musicians like flute, clarinet, violin, cello, bass, soprano, a hip-hop MC (Sandman) and a Turf dancer—to render a new kind of radically inclusive concert music for the present and future.
- Feb 3 – Washington Center for the Arts, Olympia, WA
- Feb 5 – Tacoma Arts Live, Tacoma, WA
- Feb 8 – Hult Center for the Arts, Eugene, OR
- Feb 10 – Edmonds Center for the Arts, Edmonds, WA
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