About GoGo Symphony
The critically acclaimed GoGo Symphony is an orchestra you can dance to. It celebrates go-go music, a sub-genre of funk that is the official music of Washington DC, with the musical expression of a classical symphony to create thunderous, percussive atmosphere. It can be performed in collaboration with a full classical symphonic ensemble, or as a more compact ensemble. It has sold out shows and received much media attention and critical acclaim.
According to the Washington Post, “It brought the sold out house to its feet, cheering…” during its world premiere at the Atlas Performing Arts Center with the Capital City Symphony. Influential pop and classical music journalist Greg Sandow calls the project “maverick” in the classical world. “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…” On the other side, Kato Hammond, author of the top go-go music news website “Take Me Out to the Go-Go,” predicts, “This project will bring go-go music to a wider audience.”
GoGo Symphony was founded by composer and conductor Liza Figueroa Kravinsky in 2012, drawing on both her classical music training and go-go and pop music experience. A graduate of Oberlin College, she composed for, directed, and performed with “Robin Power and the Uptown Dames”, a Paisley Park project created by Prince. She also toured with Mowtown recording artist Stacy Lattisaw; TRJ, a faction of go-go band Trouble Funk, and go-go band Pleasure.
GoGo Symphony “brought the sold-out house to its feet, cheering”
The GoGo Symphony, partnering with the Capital City Symphony, performed the first ever fully orchestrated GoGo Symphony and received a standing ovation, three curtain calls, and rave reviews.
The Washington Post’s review describes that night on February 21, 2014 very well: “Composer Liza Figueroa Kravinsky … fuses the raw, physical power of go-go with the nuanced complexity of classical orchestral music. Crazy? Maybe. But on Friday night, Kravinsky brought her hard-driving “GoGo Symphony” to the Atlas Performing Arts Center — and it brought the sold-out house to its feet, cheering.”
“In fact, the whole evening (part of the Atlas’s “Intersections” series) was one wild, unpredictable combination after another. The classical Capital City Symphony (led by conductor John Devlin) was backed by a rhythm section of seasoned go-go players, while “beat ya feet” dancers from Da Originalz fronted the stage with electric guitarist Stephen Curtin, Rosshan Monroe on tenor sax and a string of hard-charging horns. The music itself roared, from go-go treatments of Mozart, Richard Strauss and Edvard Grieg (whose funkified “In the Hall of the Mountain King” may never be the same) to a pair of subtle-but-powerful works by saxophonist Peter Van Siclen.”
“When MC Head Roc took the stage for Kravinsky’s “GoGo Symphony,” though, things really kicked into gear. A born performer, Head Roc had the audience up in their seats throughout this exuberant work, which built small, punchy gestures into a powerhouse of unstoppable momentum. Will “symphonic go-go” take the world by storm? Hard to say — but in Kravinsky’s hands, at least, it’s well worth a listen.”
Playing with National Symphony Orchestra
On September 15, 2019 the GoGo Symphony performed at Chuck Brown Park with members of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). This event marks part of a mainstream classical institutional shift in the acknowledgment of go-go, DC’s official music genre.
Hundreds of people attended this NSO neighborhood outreach event – an attendance that exceeded the expectations of the NSO event organizers. The audience danced, clapped, and chanted with GoGo Symphony’s lead MC; while the go-go and classical musicians played
original compositions and arrangements of familiar songs to the go-go dance beat.
Many spectators reported they were curious about go-go because of the news reports of the “Don’t Mute DC” movement to preserve the go-go culture in Washington DC. At the same time, the NSO had a chance to promote classical music to the audience.
Congressional Correspondents Dinner
The Go-Go Symphony rocked 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.”
Members of Congress and the media applauded, took videos, and one correspondent from CBS radio interviewed conductor John Devlin, composer Liza Figueroa, and guest MC-Head Roc after the show. The story aired on CBS DC Radio 99.1.
Organizer and event host Lisa Dejardins booked the Go-Go Symphony to showcase Washington DC’s local culture to members of Congress. “Our guests are still talking about you, including many people who have been to a zillion dinners and events and are not easy to impress. The performance was a smashing success – for us and for DC culture,” she said.
9:30 Club “Blown Away”
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.
Go-Go Symphony at the National Mall Rocked the Tourists
The Go-Go Symphony threw a great party at the National Mall on June 30. Here is what one audience member had to say about the show:
“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.”