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Rap-Opera/C-Hal: an event that combines classical music with hip-hop to deliver a strong message

Rap and classical music are very different styles of music. Not only in sound, but in characteristics as well. Magic happens when the two are brought together, and even more when they tell an important story. That’s what B-Classic Festival tries to do with their brand new event Rap-Opera/C-Hal.

Text by Jeroen Poelmans

B-Classic Festival, which takes place in Genk and Tongeren, is a great festival for discovery. With a variety of events, it tries to challenge and expand the borders of classical music. Together with a slammer, two classical solo voices, one actress and musicians from both classical and modern music, B-Classic will be hosting ‘Rap-Opera/C-Hal’.

Rap-Opera/C-Hall: an event that combines classical music with hip-hop to deliver a strong message

'Rap-Opera/C-Hal' is an event that tries to bridge the gap between two seemingly different genres: rap - although it turned out more like poetry slam - and classical music. While the former is considered direct and unapologetic and is often addressing problems within society, the latter seems to be more sophisticated, with a strong emphasis on elegance and beauty.

The event will bring sensitive instrumentals, thoughtful lyrics and magnificent acting together while telling a story about the friction between workers and multinationals. How can companies be restructured and people be fired by a rich entrepreneur who is hiding inside his ivory tower? How can these workers be treated like numbers?

“We want to tell the story of the workers”, tells director Gorges Ocloo. “People often forget how disastrous Ford Genk was for them. Therefore, we’ll give the spectators an insight into the lives of four different workers after Ford Genk. In that way, they get four different perspectives on how the workers coped with the tragedy.”

It will be a challenging piece. Not just lyrically and story-wise, but also music-wise. “It’s about more than just bringing two styles together”, composer Maarten Lingier explains. “It’s about using two styles to tell a story. In this case, the story is built around four main characters, an actor, a rapper and two classical voices. They’ll express themselves just the way they are.”

“I got inspired by Leonard Bernstein”, Lingier continues. “With his musical ‘West Side Story’, he combined the then popular music, jazz, with classical music. He matched the different genres in a way that really worked. He would switch from a classical piece to rumba, and it would all just fit in the story.”

Rap-Opera/C-Hal will take place on April 28 in C-Mine, Genk. Tickets are still available!

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