‘Beethoven x Beyonce’ Is An Effervescent Mix of Classic & Current

June 8, 2024

Steve Hackman – Courtesy of Tom Russo. Used with permission.

When conductor-composer-producer-DJ-arranger-songwriter-singer-pianist Steve Hackman, introduced his most recent, groundbreaking fusion of the music Ludwig van Beethoven and Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter in “Beethoven x Beyonce” on Wednesday night, he described the work as “ebullient” which it unquestionably was.  Calling the two artists, the “King” and “Queen,” the maverick visionary went on to lead the magnetic Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra who played in front of packed Hilbert Circle theatre audience that was one of the most racially diverse I have ever seen at an ISO concert, or on any stage, during my 50-year career as a critic.

L-R   Kayla Sharve, Bryla Cook & Malia Covitz –   Courtesy of Tom Russo. Used with permission.

The seamless melding of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, which composer Richard Wagner described as the “apotheosis of dance,” by composer Richard Wagner when it premiered in 1813, along with fifteen of Beyonce’s chart-topping hits, was simply astonishing. The work spoke to Hackman’s brilliance as an innovative composer, arranger and conductor with a style and talent reminiscent of the late, great maestro Leonard Bernstein.

Accompanying the ISO was Hackman’s seasoned band consisting of Jackie Whitmill on drums, Dmitry Gorodetsky on bass and Andrew Lepke on keyboard/guitar. Featured was a powerhouse trio of vocalists that included Kayla Sharve, Bryla Cook and Malia Covitz with each turning in performances that more than did justice to “Queen Bey” and her music.

Act 1 included the first movement (poco sostentuto-vivace) of Beethoven’s 7th which incorporated Beyonce’s” Run the Word,” “Break my Mind,” and “Déjà Vu,” alomg with the second movement (Andante Un Poco Alledante) which included Bey’s “Halo,” and “Daddy Lessons.”

Act II began with more of Beethoven’s 7th second movement with Beyonce’s “Hold On” and “Look Up” and third movement (Presto – Assai Meno) combined with “Single Lady,” “Texas Hold ‘em,” “Love Drought” and “Formation.” The finale of the concert was the fourth movement (Allegro con mio) which included “Sorry, “and “Crazy in Love.”

Beethoven x Beyonce – Courtesy of Tom Russo. Used with permission.

It’s worth pointing out the audience’s response to the concert which was special for the audible response to opening bars of each of Beyonce’s infectious songs. Looking around I noticed that all of Queen Bey’s obvious fans seated nearby, were mouthing the lyrics to each tune and wer delightfully engaged throughout the concert.  Some were dancing in place at their seats. Equally noticeable was their reaction to Beethoven’s music, which was, as expected, subdued, yet thoroughly attentive.

The evening closed with a thunderous standing ovation during bows after which Hackman asked the crowd how many attendances at an ISO concert for the first time were, upon which a majority of the crowd screamed that it, indeed, was their introduction. Hackman, whose previous Uncharted Series fusion creations including “Brahms & Radiohead” “The Resurrection Mix Tape (Mahler X Notorious Big x Tupac Shakur) and most recently “And I Love Her (The Beatles Reimagined), once again provided evidence that his efforts are singlehandedly introducing the next generation of audiences to symphony orchestra concerts. In making classical music not only accessible and less intimidating, Hackman is helping to make venues such as the venerable Hilbert — inviting, more welcoming and less stuffy.

For tickets and information about the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 2024-2025 season visit the indianapolissymphony.org










photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

  • Creation, content, and publishing: Tom Alvarez
  • Graphic design:- Casey Ross
  • Web development: Clay Mabbitt

Leave a comment

* required field