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Hip hop Pops: Grammy-winning artists performing with Columbus Symphony

By Holly Wiencek
Marketing Coordinator, Columbus Symphony

In the past couple of years, the Columbus Symphony has expanded their Pops repertoire to include unique collaborations with artists not normally associated with symphonic music. These concerts have been very successful; the past two summers have seen sold-out performances with Nelly and Common at the Nationwide Picnic with the Pops series. Phil Shipley, principal percussion for the Columbus Symphony, remembers when Nelly’s crew approached him after the concert. He heard a loud “Hey! You!” and was taken aback for a second, until the crew member complimented him on his playing and mentioned how cool it was to see Shipley feeling the music. He describes it as being one of the best compliments he’s ever received. 

This February, the Columbus Symphony’s indoor Pops schedule includes multi-Grammy Award-winning producer, actor, author, and artist Wyclef Jean who, in his first-ever symphonic tour, will perform hits such as “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and “Gone till November” with a full orchestra!

Shipley describes the difference between playing percussion for classical concerts versus Pops concerts as two different vibration communications, which affect all of your senses differently. With classical concerts he feels a freedom when it comes to choosing his instrument and which sticks he uses, but there are also more boundaries, because he has to stay within the framework of the music. With Pops concerts, the freedom comes in the improvisation and, especially with the Nelly concert, he was able to ad lib. “When you come to hear the Columbus Symphony, no matter what the concert is, you’re getting vibrations at the highest level of quality. Don’t just watch with your eyes, you have to open your ears. It’s how the music affects you inside.” 

The Columbus Symphony and Live Nation Urban present A Night of Symphonic Hip Hop featuring Wyclef Jean at the Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.) on Saturday, February 17, at 8pm

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