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Composer and educator Eric Haeker has spent the past two years bringing together two genres that seem to be wildly different: hip hop and classical music. His non-profit organization, Arts in Motion, Inc., produces classical club party collaborations and multimedia concerts. These events draw upon modern technology and dance beats to breathe new life into classical music.
Haeker will be the featured speaker at a free MediaSmart Seminar titled, “Hip Hop Meets Classical Music” on April 21, 2004, at 3:30 p.m. at Temple University’s Center City Campus. He will speak about Arts in Motion’s education division, an after-school program that helps teens explore the connection between contemporary and classical music traditions and make their own musical compositions with the latest software.
His justification for his work comes from an understanding of classical music’s origins as the exciting, innovative, popular music of its time. In fact, he argues, “The great artists of the past would probably not think much of today’s ‘classical’ concert experience. They would ask many of the same questions asked by young people today: Why does cheering during a performance get you booted from the concert hall? Where are today’s instruments, the electric guitar, the synthesizer, the MIDI sequencer, the turntable? Why have popular dance rhythms have been banned from serious music?”
Arts in Motion’s education programs provide an innovative approach to classical music that fascinates and engages teenagers. “The way we present it, classical music is not a museum
experience,” Haeker says. “The music is fresh, the audience alive, and the energy infectious.”
Renee Hobbs, the Broadcasting Telecommunication and Mass Media professor who sponsors the monthly MediaSmart Seminars, says, “Eric’s work with teens illustrates the benefits that come from exploring the intersections of popular media culture and the fine and performing arts, especially in the field of music education. There’s an important debate going on in the field of education about the appropriate uses of new media forms and technologies. Eric’s presentation should lead to a fascinating discussion about the ways that popular media– like hip hop and rap— may deepen and enrich students’ understanding of classical art forms, literature, and the fine arts.”
Sponsored by the School of Communications and Theater, MediaSmart Seminars are an ongoing series of public events promoting networking and professional growth for K-12 and college educators, students, and individuals in non-profit, social service and community organizations in the metro Philadelphia area. The monthly seminars showcase the work of innovative local programs that help children and youth develop critical thinking and communication skills through the use of media and technology.
MediaSmart Seminars are free and open to the public. The event takes place at Temple University’s Center City campus, 1515 Market Street, Room 308, Philadelphia, PA. For more information, visit