Rutgers Symphony Orchestra appears with Jay-Z on CBS-TV Super Bowl Kickoff Show

The Rutgers Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Kynan Johns threw it down Jay-Z style earlier this year in an appearance with the legendary rapper in a Super Bowl Jay-Z with RSOXLIV music video. The 2-minute teaser featuring the hit song “Run This Town” aired just minutes before the kickoff between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. The broadcast was seen by more than 106 million viewers, the most-watched program in television history.

Appearing in a music video is “outside the mainstream of classical music,” admits Johns, director of orchestras at Mason Gross School of the Arts. “It doesn’t happen in our realm.” The arrangement of “Run This Town” is a fusion of rap and rock injected with a substantive orchestral presence.

Johns says the video shoot, which took place in New York City, helped his classically trained students to see that “it takes a lot of time to get pop music to that level.”

Even Mason Gross Dean George B. Stauffer, known as an expert in the early life and work of J.S. Bach, is impressed: “We’re extraordinarily proud to have our students rubbing elbows--and touching knuckles--with Jay-Z,” he says. 


Rutgers Symphony Orchestra

The Rutgers Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble of 90 players enrolled in the undergraduate and graduate music programs at Mason Gross School of the Arts. The orchestra performs an ambitious concert series that includes three fall and three spring concerts at the university, in addition to a major opera production. As part of the Rutgers In New York series, the orchestra has performed in many of New York City’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and Symphony Space.

The orchestra's concerts include the most challenging works of the symphonic repertory, including masterpieces by Mahler, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Beethoven, among many others. The orchestra regularly collaborates with leading artists, including cellist Alexander Ivashkin, violinist Philip Quint, pianist Ruth Laredo, and the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet, with whom they released Flagello’s Concerto Sinfonico on the Naxos label in 2006.

Photo credit: Andres Otero