Classical and Techno musicians to make Detroit ‘Structurally Sound’

Detroit’s a music city. We invented Motown. We created techno music. Our Detroit Symphony Orchestra is world class.

Hey! We’ve got rhythm. We’ve got music. Who could ask for anything more?

We can. Our musicians are always inventing new sounds … new movements.

Kenneth Thompkins

So how about merging classical and techno and paying homage to Detroit’s fantastic architecture at the same time?

That’ll happen this Sunday (November 18) when Kenneth Thompkins, principal trombonist with the DSO, techno DJ whiz John Collins, percussionist Raphael Merriweathers Jr. and keyboardist Jon Dixon team up to mix the sounds of acoustic and electronic music in the lobby of “The Qube.” That’s the Chase Bank building at 611 Woodward.

It’s part of a series from the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings called Structurally Sound. The idea is to perform in architecturally significant places in Detroit and choose music that relates specifically to the location. This concert is called Bits, Bytes and Bones.

“We want to match the music to the space,” says Maury Okun, executive director of the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings. “This (event) gives us the language from both sides of the street (classical and techno). It’s musical imagination. Step back and see what happens.”

The program the musicians created was inspired by the Qube, which was originally the National Bank of Detroit Building. It highlights the history of electronic music and how the landscape of Detroit has changed since the early history of electronic music and when the building was opened in 1959. You’ll recognize some Bach, some Wagner and a lot of techno. Historical context will be provided by Jerry Herron, dean of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College at Wayne State University.

“It will be the intersection of classical and techno,” says Thompkins, who’s playing with techno for the first time. “The works were inspired Bach … It will be transformational with the rhythmic intensity of techo.”