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It's beatboxer soloist vs. Columbia Orchestra

The Columbia Orchestra’s concert on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Jim Rouse Theatre features two composers who qualify as musical titans of the standard repertory, Beethoven and Brahms, but it also includes a contemporary piece that relates to the letter “b” in a very different way. This recent composition relates to “b” as in beatboxer.

Composer Ruby Fulton created “Deadlock” in 2012 specifically for the Baltimore-based vocal percussionist and beatboxer who professionally goes by his first name, Shodekeh. Fulton, who splits her time between Baltimore and New York City, creates a rhythmic interplay between the beatboxer soloist and the orchestra in the 10-minute-long “Deadlock.” “Ruby has done a musical re-imagining of a chess game in which the soloist plays against the orchestra, move by move,” explained Columbia Orchestra music director Jason Love. “The two older pieces on the program are traditional warhorses that are balanced with a more contemporary take.”

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Love noted that what he termed the “orchestra vs. soloist” quality of “Deadlock” has parallels to the ways in which Beethoven would pit a soloist against the orchestra.

Moreover, Fulton’s composition includes an improvisation-oriented cadenza section that is essentially true to the compositional format that would have been familiar to 19th-century composers. Also, he added that Shodekeh’s “still tweaking the rhythms and so there’s a certain latitude on his part as to keeping it fresh.”

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When Love opens the concert with “Deadlock,” he will do so with a standard-sized orchestra; however, as one would expect by way of accompaniment for such a vocally and physically percussive soloist, Love said that his orchestra “will be enhanced with more percussion.”

Following the high-energy “Deadlock,” Love leads the Columbia Orchestra in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Pointing out that the Beethoven piece has its own share of “storm and drama,” Love said he’s intrigued by how these otherwise very different compositions will match up.

Composed in 1800, this Beethoven piano concerto has as its soloist Michael Sheppard, who studied at the Peabody Institute, teaches at the Baltimore School for the Arts, and has performed with orchestras including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Columbia Orchestra.

The second half of the upcoming program is given over to Brahms Symphony No. 2. Composed in 1877, it is not as stormy as one typically expects from Brahms. Instead, it has a pastoral quality that has been likened to Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony.

By the end of the program, the audience will have had quite an emotional workout.

Columbia Orchestra performs on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake, 5460 Trumpeter Road in Columbia. Tickets are $10- $28. There is a free pre-concert discussion with Bill Scanlan Murphy at 6:30 p.m. in the Rouse Mini-Theatre. Call 410-465-8777 or go to columbiaorchestra.org

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