Quincy Jones’ Qwest TV to Democratize Classical Music
Qwest TV, the music video hub co-founded by Quincy Jones and Reza Ackbaraly, is moving into classical music. While its roots are in jazz, funk, soul and global music, the move fits perfectly within Qwest TV’s central mission: to democratize music and to break down the cultural barriers that result in unconscious biases in our listening habits.
Quincy Jones has received the most Grammy awards of any living artist and has built a decades-long career from a jazz upbringing, which evolved into funk music, soul jams, hip-hop and collaborations with global artists. What is less known is that in 1958 he also received classical training under “the greatest music teacher who ever lived,” Nadia Boulanger, who also taught Stravinsky, Phillip Glass and Leonard Bernstein. Nadia Boulanger showed Quincy that music only consists of “12 notes,” and that music aligns with who we are as human beings. Through her tutelage Quincy became the first African American artist to compose music for films and to include strings as a central component in his funk hits.
Reza Ackbaraly is a French music producer and aficionado with a long history programming for Mezzo TV, a leading classical music channel, as well as some of Europe’s most prestigious festivals. Coming from an Indian-Madagascan background, he grew frustrated with the elitism of the music space when trying to incorporate multicultural sounds into European classical programming. Why shouldn’t Indian Raga, African drums or Caribbean rhythms share the same stage with Classical musicians?
The heartbeat of their joint venture, Qwest TV, is to break down these cultural barriers that place more perceived value on some genres rather than others. Duke Ellington once asked Quincy to become the “one to decategorize” modern music, and this new move represents a huge step in that direction. As the saying goes, “Good music is good music,” an idea encapsulated in Qwest TV’s slogan: “where great music meets.” What happens when cultural barriers are pulled down, and Louis Armstong sits side by side with international classical composers, DJs, Malian blues, New York hip hop, Anderson .Paak, Norah Jones, Fela Kuti? This is Qwest TV’s commitment.
The Qwest TV SVOD platform has begun onboarding high-profile concerts exploring the classical music world (view here). Each film is paired with descriptions by music experts and special playlists providing a gateway for all kinds of viewers to start appreciating the great composers. Qwest TV has also launched a linear channel, Qwest TV Classical dedicated to classical concerts, dance and opera available on Samsung TV Plus in Australia (more partners coming soon). Combined with its two other channels (Qwest TV Mix, and Qwest TV Jazz & Beyond) the channels draw in 10M+ unique monthly viewers worldwide.
Qwest TV released its first World Exclusive in the Classical space, the concert “Charpentier, Grands Motets” filmed at the Royal Chapel of Versailles with musical direction by William Christie, Les Arts Florissants Choir and Ensemble.
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