Skip to main content

Originally published June 7, 2014 at 10:22 AM | Page modified June 7, 2014 at 10:59 AM

  • Share:
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Sir Mix-A-Lot had a lot of fun with Seattle Symphony

A review of Friday night’s Sonic Evolution concert at Benaroya Hall, featuring the Seattle Symphony with rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot, a joyful band of women from the audience, and DJ Gabriel Prokofiev. New works saluted Bill Frisell and Ray Charles.

Special to The Seattle Times

Sir Mix-A Lot with the Seattle Symphony

"Baby Got Back"

"Posse on Broadway"

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
For the week after Elliot Rodgers killed 6 people at UC Santa Barbara the Seattle Times ran articles about how women... MORE
Watching the video of the music performance is far more entertaining than reading about it. MORE
@The boy who kicked the hornet's nest I hear you Kalle Blomkvist. But might this not be a rebuttal of mainstream... MORE


Over the years I’ve seen many memorable Benaroya Hall performances, starting with the 1998 opening concert with the Seattle Symphony playing Mozart. I’ve also watched Pearl Jam shake the rafters, Patti Smith spit on the stage, and Renée Fleming get five encores.

But before Friday night’s “Sonic Evolution” program, I’d never seen 40 women jump onstage in front of the symphony — at Sir Mix-A-Lot’s invitation — and shake their butts for 10 minutes to the sounds of hip-hop. It was an explosion of raucous energy unlike any symphony program at Benaroya before.

Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot said he has a goal to salute Seattle musical icons, so the evening was originally organized to debut three new works by young composers, all inspired by local rock, blues, or hip-hop. Composer Gabriel Prokofiev explained that his “Dial 1-900 Mix-A-Lot” was simply his reinterpretation of “urban folk music” much in the way Mozart worked the music of his era into compositions.

Prokofiev’s piece was challenging to play for the symphony, as it used tuba as percussion, but ultimately it worked. It was quickly overshadowed though when Mix-A-Lot himself came onstage for “Posse on Broadway.” “This is ‘orchestral maneuvers from the ‘hood,’” he joked.

Next was “Baby Got Back,” and Mix asked if “a couple” of ladies could help him out. Soon the stage was quickly mobbed and the symphony hidden, and a party started.

Other new works in the program were Luis Tinoco’s “FrisLand” inspired by Bill Frisell, and Du Yun’s “Hundred Heads,” an homage to Ray Charles. Both had interesting textures, but in contrast to the Mix-A-Lot performance they were more traditional.

Retro-soul group Pickwick closed the night out with three songs played with the orchestra. The vocals and violas mixed for a perfect match.

Morlot once told me that SSO needs a younger crowd because youth represents its future patrons. From that standpoint, Friday — with a hundred teenagers in T-shirts in the audience — was a smashing success.

Attendee Amy Adams said the show was unlike anything she’d seen at the hall. “Just epic,” she said after the show. “It was a wonderful way to bring in people who don’t usually go to the symphony.”

Morlot asked the sold-out crowd how many were new to Benaroya. Two hundred attendees raised their hands, which means new blood.

Yet for everyone at Friday’s concert — new to Benaroya, patrons, or old vets — it was a night to celebrate. “Tell ‘em to shake it,” Mix-A-Lot urged.

And in Benaroya Hall, on the stage even, they did.

Charles R. Cross:,, @charlesrcross

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

Also in Entertainment

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The Seattle Times photographs

Seattle space needle and mountains

Purchase The Seattle Times images

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►