Carly Rae Jepsen at the Symphony Is the Pinnacle of Classical Music

As a music fan, you sometimes wonder if the album or artist that you champion as good is actually that good. It often feels that way with Carly Rae Jepsen; that a small circle of peers or close friends, like you, love the way she sings over bubbling synths and triumphant sax but no one else really does. Jepsen’s jubilant sophomore E-MO-TION was released two years ago to critical acclaim but little fanfare on the charts, which is likely one the biggest mistakes millennials will ever make. You wonder if she is, or maybe that record is, solely reserved for critics to revere. And yet, on Saturday night at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, you’re proven wrong by the thousands of genuine fans who showed the hell up for Carly Rae Jepsen at the symphony.

Jepsen never had a full solo tour to support E-MO-TION in Canada. For Jepsen fans, this seemed like their one shot to hear their favourite tracks live, even if they were to be reimagined with a full orchestra. The 31 year-old pop star’s sold out show was put together by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as part of their Canada 150 celebrations. Jepsen worked with conductor Lucas Waldin, as well as close members of team—Christopher Mayo and Tavish Crowe—to transform her neon dripping synths and saxophone solos into something else altogether. The idea came from last year’s Polaris Prize Gala performance when she did an extremely pared down version of her song “Your Type.” On the phone from Venice a couple of weeks before the performance, Jepsen told Noisey that at the Polaris Gala, Mayo did a “sort of did a string quartet version of “Your Type.” She added: “We just felt like it changed the song in a way, like we have this new melancholy and sadness to it that the pop version.” Jepsen’s music, like all the best pop, doesn’t convey emotions straightforwardly. Instead preferring to treat them as multifaceted entities, which is also what classical music sometimes does, making this pairing symbiotic.

Carly Rae Jepsen. Photo by…

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