Clas­sics flow into Brewer’s in­spi­ra­tion

> Sym­phony melds di­rec­tor’s views of ‘Mu­sic as Muse’

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Stage - By Jon W. Sparks

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

No, the Mem­phis Sym­phony Or­ches­tra will not be play­ing “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp.”

How­ever, the au­di­ence at Satur­day’s First Ten­nessee Grand Se­ries con­cert will find there is a creative con­nec­tion be­tween the Os­car-winning film “Amadeus” and Craig Brewer’s “Hus­tle & Flow” that gave the world the Os­car-winning rap song “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp.”

The aim of the event, called “Mu­sic as Muse: An Artist’s In­spi­ra­tion,” is to of­fer a provoca­tive con­cert fea­tur­ing clas­si­cal works that in­flu­enced film di­rec­tor Brewer’s life and movies.

Mozart’s Re­quiem in D Mi­nor is in the mix along with Bern­stein’s Over­ture to “West Side Story,” Bar­ber’s “Ada­gio for Strings,” Orff’s “Carmina Bu­rana,” the fourth move­ment of Beethoven’s Ninth Sym­phony, John Wil­liams’ “Star Wars” theme, Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Cello Con­certo No. 1.

“It’s a night of mu­sic and sto­ry­telling,” Brewer says. “And it’s go­ing to be a lit­tle bit in­ter­ac­tive. We want every­one snap­ping dur­ing the ‘West Side Story’ num­ber so peo­ple are go­ing to have to be pre­pared to per­form from their seats. We’re go­ing to di­vide the au­di­ence be­tween the Jets and the Sharks.”

The sym­phony will be di­rected by guest con­duc­tor Carolyn Kuan who worked with Brewer on shap­ing the pro­gram. Brewer says the evening is in­tended to be an in­trigu­ing mix that will ap­peal to both the Master­works and Pops se­ries audiences. “Carolyn has been re­ally good at mea­sur­ing that for us and cre­at­ing some­thing that’s re­ally en­ter­tain­ing and out of the box.”

For Brewer, the “West Side Story” sound­track was a fa­vorite of his par­ents and it’s stayed with him.

“We’ll also be play­ing the Shostakovich that I used in ‘The Poor & Hun­gry,’ ” Brewer says, “and telling the story of how we put the mu­sic to­gether for that film.”

The 1990 film that was an in­die hit and opened the door to Hol­ly­wood for Brewer, “is about what hap­pens when you sud­denly have a con­nec­tion to some­body who helps cre­ate mu­sic,” he says.

But the most in­trigu­ing mu­si­cal con­nec­tion is that be­tween “Amadeus” and “Hus­tle & Flow.”

When Brewer was pitch­ing “Hus­tle & Flow” in Hol­ly­wood, he was asked how it could work for peo­ple who don’t like rap.

Brewer an­swered with the story of the time his fa­ther took him to see “Amadeus.”

“I just re­ally wasn’t into clas­si­cal,” he says. “But by the time I got to that fi­nal scene where Mozart is writ­ing his own Re­quiem and Salieri is at the foot of his bed tran­scrib­ing line by line what each in­stru­ment is do­ing, I saw clas­si­cal mu­sic not only bro­ken down into parts but I saw peo­ple pas­sion­ately de­scrib­ing what the mu­sic should be like.”

When he heard it all come to­gether it was like the birth of a song and he was at its cre­ation.

Brewer ex­plained to his Hol­ly­wood in­ter­roga­tors that “Hus­tle & Flow” would “show peo­ple break­ing down rap — work­ing on the beat, then work­ing on the hook, and then the flow and you see them sweat­ing over it, killing them­selves to do it,” he says. “But it didn’t mat­ter if you didn’t like rap mu­sic, you were never go­ing to let that song leave your head.”

Brewer would be pleased if that sort of mu­si­cal own­er­ship oc­curs this week­end.

“I hope we’ll all be a lit­tle closer to each other in terms of our pas­sion and our mu­si­cal taste. And some­times you need to throw a party to re­mind ev­ery­body about that.”

Film­maker Craig Brewer joins hands with the Mem­phis Sym­phony Or­ches­tra to put mu­sic to his mo­tives, and how “Amadeus” in­spired his “Hus­tle & Flow.”

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