On January 13, 2017, the Go-Go Symphony will perform the world premiere of “JuJu Symphony” and “Down With You,” two pieces that mark the first ever collaboration between a go-go music celebrity and classical composers.
Juju House (aka Juju), drummer of famed go-go band Experience Unlimited (EU), collaborated with other Go-Go Symphony composers Liza Figueroa Kravinsky, Joshua Cruse, and Andrew Velez to produce these two powerful dance pieces.
“When Juju said he wanted to join the Go-Go Symphony ensemble, I just about fainted,” says Kravinsky, “He’s famous and successful. I couldn’t believe he wanted to work from scratch with us.”
She may have been intimidated by the fact that Juju has also played for Grace Jones (“Slave To The Rhythm”), Chaka Khan, Chuck Brown, and Dionne Farris. However, the Go-Go Symphony already has a budding reputation from its critically acclaimed sell out performances at the Atlas Performing Arts Center and other venues.
JuJu explains, “This is something of taking go-go and being able to broaden it into different elements, but still using my own flavor. That’s what it’s always been about. Being able to blend and properly deliver all the colors together.”
“Collaborating with Juju on a symphony has been quite eye opening,” explains Liza. “I’m learning a lot about rhythm and other things that classical musicians don’t normally think about. Go-Go has a lot to offer the to the classical world.”
Influential classical music blogger and critic Greg Sandow continues to sing praises of the Go-Go Symphony, challenging the Kennedy Center to put their show on their stage. Sandow blogs about the future of classical music, and often writes about the Go-Go Symphony as an example of how to revitalize the troubled classical music scene.
Read his blog here:
Here are some other blogs about the Go-Go Symphony by Greg Sandow and guest blogger Liza Figueroa Kravinsky:
The Go-Go Symphony had the honor of performing for the Radio Television Congressional Correspondents Dinner on June 12, 2014. A celebration between members of the United States Congress and the radio and television news media, the event featured celebrity Nick Offerman and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
Sharing the stage was guest MC Head-Roc, “the Mayor of DC Hiphop” and go-go beat ya feet dance group “Da Originalz.”
The Go-Go Symphony has been quite visible in the press recently.
Highlights include coverage by the Washington Post, Washington Informer, and On Tap magazine.
Here are some highlighted quotes from the coverage:
“The buzz is exciting, and I’m also hearing about word of mouth spreading about us. We’re very excited,” said Go-Go Symphony founder Liza Figueroa Kravinsky.
Says Washington Post
The Capital City Symphony, along with members of the Go-Go Symphony ensemble, performed the first ever fully orchestrated Go-Go Symphony and received a standing ovation, three curtain calls, and rave reviews.
The Go-Go Symphony “definitely cranked” when they opened for the legendary go-go band Trouble Funk at the 9:30 Club on January 17, 2014, wrote a major go-go blog DC Brand 99 in Jan. 18 article “Trouble Funk: The Timeless Treasure.”
This was the first positive review received by the Go-Go Symphony. “I’m totally thrilled,” said composer/founder Liza Figueroa Kravinsky, “We’re getting posted on Facebook and Instagram from some of the celebrities that performed with us. Nothing like genuine buzz.”
The performance also resulted in a Washington City Paper interview of Kravinsky. A commenter on the article who was at the show said he/she was “blown away.”
The event was a video release party for Trouble Funk’s new single “Hump Day.” Go-go bands Be’la Dona and Sugar Bear of EU will also perform that night. Guest stars include White Boy and James Funk of Rare Essence, Buggs of Junk Yard, and Big G of Backyard Band.
Doors open at 9 pm at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW, Washington DC. Tickets are $20.
The Go-Go Symphony threw a great party at the National Mall on June 30. Here is what audience member Carol Young had to say about the show:
“So, here’s what I observed — kids were sad to leave the concert when their parents pulled them away and kids dragged their parents from the museums to listen to the music. You quintupled (5X) the number of people from start to finish. People listened as they walked to from museums along the venue — i.e. they danced, bounced their heads, tapped/clapped their hands, or they danced/walked as it were.”
“About the music, I most enjoyed your pieces the “alright we’re going to try something new school” sounded really interesting — sometimes Latin, Middle Eastern, then like a band – it was intriguing in a cool way not weird, this is NOT really music way. Your music told a story – took us to some new places, got us excited and interested in go go and symphony music. Your leading with the violin was super duper cool. Overall it was breath taking — like, WOW, you’re doing your art and it’s making a difference in SO many peoples’ lives right in the nation’s capital. I wanted to hear even more of the juxtaposition of the orchestral music and a plug for the jam sessions at Dupont Circle.”
The Go-Go Symphony is considered a maverick project in the classical music world, according to classical music critic and expert Greg Sandow. Sandow recalls his thoughts when he first heard about the project:
“It didn’t simply combine pop and classical music — that’s been done quite a lot — but also brought together pop and classical musicians. And in a long-term collaboration, not just as a one-shot, like Grizzly Bear playing with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, or Elvis Costello creating The Juliet Letters with the Brodsky Quartet.”
“Still more: the style of pop music involved in Liza’s piece is something with fierce local roots in the place where the project is happening. ”
“All these things are rare, if not unique. And they give the project a kind of street energy not always found in pop/classical collaborations.”
“Take Me Out To The Go-Go,” the premier news magazine and website for Washington DC’s go-go community, interviewed Liza Figueroa Kravinsky, founder of the Go-Go Symphony. Journalist Kato Hammond introduced the interview by comparing the Go-Go Symphony with the National Symphony Orchestra’s historic performance with go-go innovator Chuck Brown:
“On the evening of September 4, 2011, the go-go culture experienced its very first taste of enjoying their favorite style of music performed on a classical platform when the National Symphony Orchestra did something different and invited Chuck Brown to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capital… The biggest thing that this event proved to us was that only is Go-Go recognized as an art form in the family of music, but it can be presented within many different cultures.”
“And that’s what brings us to this interview session right here. Today, we put the spotlight on a woman who not only decided to take that concept a step further, but is also no stranger herself to Go-Go music and its culture. Liza Figueroa Kravinsky is the founder of a musical ensemble who’s objective is to do just that. This musical ensemble that I speak of? The Go-Go Symphony.”