As if dance music does not already stretch across a plethora of sound, Tomorrowland’s Symphony of Unity and the Ministry of Sound Classical demonstrate that dance music can be classical dance as well. That’s right––the usual DJ deck was replaced by an orchestra of violins and cellos. No longer can critics say that dance music does not use traditional instruments.
Last year, on its 15th anniversary, Tomorrowland included an installment of orchestral performance called “Symphony of Unity,” performed by the Metropole Orkest. ADE goers will recognize the group from 2018, when they performed with Dutch DJ Hardwell for his farewell performance. The group has won multiple Grammys for their work in jazz and pop.
For Tomorrowland’s Symphony of Unity 2019, the Metropole Orkest played orchestral renditions of staple dance music: from Armin van Buuren’s “Shivers” to Faithless’s “Insominia.” They opened both weekends of the famous festival.
The Symphony of Unity installment is a reaction to a subculture trend rising in the world of dance music, one where popular dance songs with their classic bass drops and synthesizers are transformed into harmonic symphonies performed live with a full orchestra and a conductor. One group that best demonstrates these renditions is the Ministry of Sound Classical.
The Ministry of Sound is a London-based membership club for musicians, equipped with a shared workspace (coined “The Ministry”), a nightclub, and even a fitness studio. The founder of the group took inspiration from New York’s Paradise Garage, a historic discotheque.
The Ministry of Sound Classical is a branch of the group with a 50-piece orchestra, performing, as their website describes, “iconic dance classics, completely rearranged and reinterpreted for 2020.” Along with global performances and tours, the group has an annual sold-out performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall. They have reimagined big artists like the Chemical Brothers, Faithless, Fatboy Slim, and Moloko.