Photo gallery: Purcell, Shakespeare and hip hop an awesome mix

Hip hop, Henry Purcell and Shakespeare may sound like an unlikely mix, but putting them all together created a new sound for top musicians, young rappers and aspiring orchestral stars.

Members of the highly respected chamber orchestra Britten Sinfonia joined forces with young MCs, beatboxers, music technology students and classical music students to compose and perform a new piece, based on the music of Henry Purcell.

And the innovative reworking of If Music Be The Food Of Love was met with approval when it was performed at the Norwich Theatre Royal before the Britten Sinfonia's concert last night.

Under the guidance of Mercury music prize-nominated jazz musician Kit Downes, the youngsters from social inclusion charity Future Projects and Norfolk County Youth Orchestra combined different musical genres, performance styles, backgrounds and age groups to share musical skills and talents.

The talented MCs attended a special workshop with Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company's artist Akala to write their own Shakespearian-influenced rhymes.

Rapper Will Bower, 21, from the Mousehold area of Norwich, said his musical influences were Dr Dre and Kanye West, but working with classical musicians had taught him to appreciate and keep an open mind about other genres of music.

He said: 'It's been a really great experience because this type of music is beautiful. Melding it in a production where we get MCs over it is a difficult task but the producers have made it seem very current, very upbeat and professional.

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'It's opened my eyes to different aspects of music and to never dismiss different genres that you haven't heard.'

He said the young MCs had been awed by how well the youth orchestra members played their instruments.

Viola player Charlotte Bowater, 15, said the orchestra members had similarly been blown away by the rappers.

The City of Norwich School pupil said: 'It has been inspiring. At first I was a little reserved about it all, but I can honestly say it's been such a brilliant experience.'

Audience members Brian and Christine Hastings, from West Runton, said the performance had been suprisingly and 'unsually enjoyable'.

The musicians will be performing Purcell: Remixed again a the Fusion venue at Norwich's Forum from 6.30pm to 7.30pm next Sunday.

Do you have a story about young people getting involved in an innovative project? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email