Hit play below to listen to our Arts Alive interview with Young Musicians Foundation’s Yuga Cohler.

The worlds of classical and electronic music come together this weekend in Little Tokyo. It’s all part of a concert and community arts festival hosted by the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Chamber Orchestra and dreamed up by YMF music director Yuga Cohler and composer Stefan Cwik. The event will combine the music of Igor Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten, and LA-based DJ and electronic musician Flying Lotus in a unique concert experience. Yuga Cohler tells me it’s an outgrowth of how young people consume music today.

Yuga Cohler: I grew up studying and playing classical music. But I also grew up with the internet: I had Napster when it came out and I’ve been exposed to a lot of different types of music just because it’s so available. My thought is that any art form sort of has to have both value and relevance to the current age. It’s important that people who consume the art are able to derive something of value from it. So for me, what that means in a classical music context is two things: first of all, I do believe that classical music has a lot to offer in terms of depth of emotion, complexity of structure, the subtleties involved with it, the amount of passion and commitment that it demands. I also believe that there’s a lot that all sorts of other types of music have to offer in those areas and also in terms of relevance, in terms of reflecting our current society’s thoughts and values. I think it provides a useful mirror into what our society is today. So, finding the intersection point between those two—of the values that classical music has to offer and the values that other types of music have to offer seems to me a very natural thing to do.

Brian Lauritzen: So, how does the concert work?

YC: Well, I don’t want to give away too much, but basically it’ll be emceed or narrated by Stefan [Cwik] and me. It’s entirely orchestral. There are no recorded or electronic components—it’s just an acoustic orchestra playing works. Some of the works are pure arrangements of Flying Lotus’s music, which lend themselves to really great, intricate orchestral arrangements. Some of the works are pure, standalone Britten or Stravinsky pieces. And then, the bulk of the concert is these sort of mash-ups: orchestral arrangements that incorporate musical material from both Flying Lotus and either Britten or Stravinsky. This will highlight the musical similarities that exist between them.

Yuga Cohler is the music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Chamber Orchestra. On Friday, April 13th, YMF performs the music of Britten, Stravinsky, and Flying Lotus in a concert at the Aratani Theatre at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Toyko. The concert is presented in conjunction with a Community Arts Festival in the courtyard outside the theatre. The Festival begins at 5pm on Friday afternoon and the concert is at 8pm. For more information, visit YMF.org.

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