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Breakdancing Shapes My Performances – Music Guides Stage Movements

Breakdancing Shapes My Performances – Music Guides Stage Movements
‘Music dictates how you move’: Jakub Józef Orliński. Photograph: Sophia Evans/the Observer

The prize-winning Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński, 33, has earned acclaim performing in opera houses worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and London’s Royal Opera House. Born and raised in Warsaw, where he currently resides, Orliński is set to make his BBC Proms debut later this month. He will also perform at the Edinburgh International Festival on August 3 and at Wigmore Hall on September 12. In addition to his notable musical career, Orliński is a skilled skateboarder and breakdancer, and has even modeled, gracing the covers of Vogue Poland Man and Esquire Spain. His eighth album is due for release in September.

Orliński describes his late-night Prom as based on his album “Beyond,” which aims to break classical music barriers. He emphasizes that no prior knowledge of music or composers is necessary to enjoy it; the performance is about the purity of emotion. The early Baroque music he focuses on relies heavily on a groovy bass line, making it incredibly relevant and accessible to all.

The presentation is distinctive, featuring special lighting and costumes. Orliński views this performance as a concept project, similar to how a pop album has a theme. The ongoing story woven through early Baroque pieces functions like an artistic diary. While he has performed this concept 21 times across Europe and North America, this will be his first time in England and his first Prom. He’s particularly excited about singing intimate music in the vast space of the Royal Albert Hall.

If you mix house with rap no one blinks, but if you mix classical with something everyone yells.

Orliński discovered his countertenor voice, capable of reaching soprano heights, when he was just eight years old while singing alto in a choir in Warsaw. After puberty, as his speaking voice deepened, he transitioned to a male voice choir and sang bass baritone. His journey to becoming a countertenor began around age 16 when he started singing falsetto to fill high voice parts for Renaissance music. A workshop with English countertenor Paul Esswood introduced him to the term and concept of a countertenor. Initially puzzled, he soon realized that countertenor was a legitimate voice type that utilized the edge of the vocal cords rather than the full cords. With growing understanding of the technical aspects, more countertenors are now making their mark.

Orliński’s childhood in Warsaw was filled with music and family. He has one biological brother but grew up with seven cousins, whom he considers siblings. His mother is an artist and sculptor, while his father is an artist and graphic designer. Despite the musical atmosphere at home, Orliński is the only professional musician in his family.

His interest in skateboarding and breakdancing began early in life. As an active child, he was always engaged in physical activities like climbing trees, snowball fights, and skiing. By 14, he was a skateboard champion and later took up breakdancing. These physical pursuits helped him stay mentally and physically fit.

Orliński still engages in these activities. In Paris, he trains with local hip-hop dancers at Centquatre, and in London, he spends hours in the ballet studios at the Royal Opera House after his opera rehearsals. Dancing to various genres like funk, hip-hop, house, and electronica, he finds that his dance background influences his stage performances because music dictates movement.

Besides his musical and dance careers, Orliński has also ventured into modeling. While he initially took up modeling to earn money for college, he discovered he had a knack for working with the camera and found the work enjoyable.

Orliński’s upcoming album, #LetsBaRock, offers a fresh take on Baroque music, incorporating piano, double bass, drums, Moog, and vocals. The album, recorded at Church Studios in north London, known for hosting iconic artists like Coldplay, Madonna, Blur, and Paul McCartney, promises to bring a new sound to traditional pieces.

Watch a video of Jakub Józef Orliński singing Vivaldi.

He acknowledges that he might face criticism for crossover music. Orliński finds it perplexing that while blending house music with rap is widely accepted, incorporating classical elements into other genres often draws criticism. He hopes the classical music world can become more open and less conservative.

Regarding the use of phones in concert halls, Orliński believes it depends on the context. While phones are fine during encores or outdoor festivals, they should be put away during recitals. He feels that the beauty of live performance lies in its ability to captivate and focus the audience’s attention. Even if listeners don’t understand the language, the music itself is expressive enough. However, he finds phone lights distracting during intimate performances.

As he prepares to board the Eurostar to perform Vivaldi in Paris, Orliński will be listening to Melody Gardot, whose jazz tunes he finds perfect for setting a dreamy mood as he travels through the tunnel.

• Prom 7: Late Night Italian With Jakub Józef Orliński takes place at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on July 23rd at 10:15pm and will be broadcast live on Radio 3. #LetsBaRock will be released on Erato on September 27th.

Source: The Guardian