It feels like there should be a round of applause at the end of the above video, courtesy of Pigeons and Planes. After all, it’s not easy to DJ, nor to perform as part of an orchestra. Combining the two is nothing less than a stroke of genius and work of unexpectedly beautiful art.
The Philharmonic Turntable Orchestra is made up of 30 of the world’s best DJs, many of them DMC World Champions, and this first performance video is the culmination of “three full days of intense practice and rehearsal,” according to one of the DJs.
Each was given a vinyl record of with a different sample of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto in E Minor,” from a single triangle to chorus vocals, and played a different part to recreate the entire concerto with a modern twist — almost exactly like a traditional orchestra. Mendelssohn’s final orchestral composition was chosen because it was the very first 12″ LP pressed by Columbia in 1948, performed by the New York Philharmonic.
Aside from being an interesting internet curio, the Turntable Orchestra’s performance is a perfect commentary on just how far the art of DJ-ing has come. Back in the ’70s, when turntablists first began sampling, mixing, cutting, and scratching records, the music was criticized because it didn’t use “real” instruments, but now, just 40 years later, the turntables and mixers are instruments themselves, bringing the history of music and the artform full circle.