Music

Pianist puts hip-hop twist to classical music

Pianist Chloe Flower, who made waves at Grammys with Cardi B, combines hip-hop and classical music

NEW YORK : Seen by many as the music of grandparents and elevators, classical is getting a facelift thanks to Chloe Flower.

The 33-year-old Korean-American wowed the Internet earlier this year after a show-stopping performance at the Grammys alongside US rap queen Cardi B, who twerked on Liberace's crystal piano as Flower theatrically struck chords.

"I was so scared. I got a fortune cookie the night before, and it was like, 'If you don't take big risks, you won't get any reward,'" Flower said from her Manhattan apartment that boasts another of Liberace's pianos his foundation had lent her.

The Juilliard-trained artist became an overnight sensation after the Grammys, landing a deal with Sony Music. In 2010, Flower signed with legendary R&B producer Babyface, composing instrumental sequences, and she has since worked with Celine Dion, Nas and 2 Chainz.

"It is kind of a road that isn't normal," she said. "It is not like there are many classical pianists playing a glass piano with hip-hop beats, right? Or producing hip-hop tracks to Bach."

But for her, the marriage of classical and rap was natural.

Flower said: "I love drums. I love beats. I love dance.

"I always felt like there was no reason I couldn't combine the two, and as I did, I noticed that a lot of people who don't necessarily listen to classical music would text me, 'Oh my god, I was listening to the classical station because of you.'"

Flower describes classical music's reputation as dusty as a "packaging" problem.

"What we have to do as instrumentalists and artists is... think about our music in a different way; in a modern way," she said.

She uses Instagram - where Cardi B discovered her - to promote her work and the genre, posting clips of herself busting out classical remixes of hits such as Ariana Grande's Thank U, Next as well as more traditional pieces such as Chopin's Nocturnes.

As she plays, Flower whips her hair over her bold, designer outfits complete with heels.

"Fashion has a huge, huge, huge role in my performance.My music is purely instrumental. I have to find different ways to express myself. My style represents my personality but also who I am as an artist."

Flower has an album forthcoming and recently released her first music video for her single Get What U Get, which showcases her energetic style and features female dancers.- AFP

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