Classical Crossover: A Fusion of Classical and Popular Music

In an attempt to appeal to a wider audience, many current classical artists no longer adhere strictly to classical repertoire. Instead, they have begun recording more popular works, such as Broadway tunes or film soundtracks. Classical crossover describes the genre of music that includes recordings of popular music by classically trained musicians as well as collaborations between popular and classical artists. While this genre is not purely classical, it certainly integrates element of classical music into popular music and vice versa, making classical music more accessible to modern audiences.

Because classical musicians receive intensive musical training, they are able to achieve a high level of technical proficiency. These technical abilities make classical musicians musically versatile, enabling them to explore other genres. Some of the most famous classical artists today are classical crossover artists since they are the most visible representations of classical music. These artists include:
  • Singers
    • The Three Tenors
      • Comprised of Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti, The Three Tenors proved that classical music could still sell. After their immensely successful first performance at the 1990 FIFA World Cup final in Rome, the trio continued to sing together until Pavarotti's death in 2007. Their CD, The Three Tenors in Concert (1994), became the best-selling classical album of all time. The trio performed a wide array of works, ranging from opera to pop hits to Christmas songs.
      • Signature pieces include:
        • "Nessun dorma" from the opera Turandot by Giacomo Puccini

        • "O sole mio" (a Neopolitan song, with music by Eduardo di Capua and lyrics by Giovanni Capurro)

    • Sarah Brightman
      • A classical crossover soprano, Sarah Brightman is well known for her role as Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical, The Phantom of the Opera, as well as for her duet with Andrea Bocelli, "Time to Say Goodbye". After her stage career, Brightman began a solo career in which she recorded operatic arias as well as popular songs that integrated elements from electronic, rock, and classical music. Brightman sings with both a pop-style voice and a classically trained opera voice.
        • In "Anytime, Anywhere," Brightman samples Adagio in G minor (1958) by Remo Gizotta (more commonly known as "Albinoni's Adagio")

        • Brightman's rendition of Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria"

    • Andrea Bocelli 
      • The biggest-selling singer in classical music, Andrea Bocelli is a tenor and classical crossover artist. He records both pop and classical music, ranging from complete operas to pop singles to Christmas music. 
        • "Ingemisco" from the Messa de Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi

        • One of his most popular pop singles, "Il mare calmo della sera"

        • "Time to Say Goodbye" (with Sarah Brightman)

  • Instrumentalists
    • Vanessa-Mae (violin)
      • Self-described as "violin techno-acoustic fusion", Vanessa-Mae was classically trained as a child and was one of the youngest soloists to record the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky concertos at the age of 13. As she became older, Vanessa-Mae left her classical repertoire and began to explore pop music, recording her first pop album, The Violin Player
        • "Storm" is a techno of the 3rd movement, "Presto", from "Summer" from The Four Seasons by Antonia Vivaldi

        • Toccata and Fugue in D minor (transposed for violin) by J.S. Bach

    • Maksim Mrvica (piano)
      • Mrvica began his classical training on the piano at age 9 and won many European and international piano competitions. While he continues to perform purely classical pieces, he often strays from the traditional text of the piece and adds other elements, such as additional orchestral accompaniment or percussion. Much of Mrvica's music infuses non-classical elements (synthesizer, percussion) into famous classical pieces.
        • Nocturne in E-flat Major by Frederic Chopin

        • Mrvica's remix of the Anvil Chorus from the opera Il trovatore (The Troubador) by Giuseppe Verdi

    • Yo-Yo Ma (cello)
      • One of the most celebrated cellists and most prominent figure of classical music, Yo-Yo Ma began studying the cello at age 4. He has recorded a vast majority of cello repertoire, including the major concertos and sonatas, and is famous for his Inspired by Bach films, in which he plays the six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello by J.S. Bach. Ma has also collaborated with non-classical artists to create crossover albums. These artists include vocalist Bobby McFerrin, with whom he made Hush, and tango composer Astor Piazzolla, with whom he made The Soul of the Tango. Ma also established the Silk Road Project, a group dedicated to multicultural exchange featuring instruments from Middle Eastern and Asian nations. Ma has also recorded music for numerous soundtracks, including Tan Dun's score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
        • "Hush Little Baby" with Bobby McFerrin

        • "Libertango" (composed by Astor Piazzolla)

        • "Ascending Bird" with the Silk Road Project