The Toronto Symphony Orchestra was runnin’ through the 6 with their bows last night, when the ensemble tackled a string arrangement of Drake’s “Know Yourself” at the Polaris Prize Gala. The Polaris Gala saw performances by nominees Buffy Sainte-Marie, Braids, Jennifer Castle, Alvvays, and the soon-to-be-renamed Viet Cong, as well as tributes to short-listed albums by BadBadNotGood and Ghostface Killah, Caribou, Tobias Jesso Jr., The New Pornographers, and Drake.
The 6 God couldn’t be there in person, but Polaris Prize organizers still wanted to feature a live performance to help acknowledge If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. After an introduction by Toronto councillor and Drake’s right hand man Norm Kelly, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra launched into the opening bars of “Know Yourself,” giving the eerie instrumental a lush, cinematic treatment with Drake’s vocal replicated by a cello lead. The string arrangement elevated the intricacies in the beat by Boi-1da, Vinylz, and Syk Sense, and faithfully reimagined the layered synth leads present in the sample source by ‘80s kraut-rock outfit Network. The Polaris Prize was ultimately awarded to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power In The Blood, and deservedly so, but the TSO’s cover of “Know Yourself” was a soaring highlight of the gala.