Mozart, à la Da-Da-Dee-Dum


Julia Wesely

AUSTRIA/Igudesmanandjoo im Konzerthaus Wien© Julia Wesely - bei jeglicher Veröffentlichung wird um Nennung der Bildautorin gebeten!

By Tessa Solomon

[email protected]

From the balcony seat, two figures are visible on stage. One raises his violin, the other perches at his piano. Eyelids prepare to droop. Suddenly, the pianist rips a leg off his piano, the violin strikes a chord, and another leg comes off. He slams both on the keyboard, somehow eliciting Beethoven. Everyone is wide-awake now. Igudesman & Joo have begun their show.

Aleksey Igudesman & Hyung-ki Joo will perform “And Now Mozart” at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Englert, 221 E. Washington St. The two are  classically trained with an unconventional approach to classical music. Their shows are a mixture of slapstick comedy, pop culture, and thoughtful composition.    

The two met at the age of 12 at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England.

“When we were growing up, we found classical music took itself way too seriously for its own good,” said Joo, who plays piano. “Going to concerts was a stuffy and very intimidating affair. So we said when we’re older, we’re going to create concerts that we would want to go to ourselves.”

They begin searching outside of their lessons for inspiration, consuming media from rap to “Saturday Night Live.”

“We always wondered, ‘Why can’t we have all of the things we love in one place; why can’t we mix humor, theater, and music together,’ ” Joo said.

Their first show, “A Little Nightmare Music,” a play on Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, delivered that fusion and quickly gained critical acclaim. Since then, they have toured internationally, garnering admirers from children to symphony savants.

“They’ll appeal to a younger generation because they’re funny, but also to the classical music crowd because they are both very accomplished players; they really bridge that gap,” said Max Rubino, the programming manager for Toronto’s Royal Conservatory.

Despite their shows’ often-outrageous antics, they have an earnest objective: to make classical music more accessible to a young audience.

“I feel like many people don’t give classical music a fair shake, that they only encounter it when they first pick up piano as a child or memorizing works for college humanities classes,” said Aly High, the marketing director of the Englert.

Students of the duo can expect anything but memorization. In their 8 to 88 program they teach all ages that classical music can be comedic and experimental.

“The art of improvisation has been lost,” Joo said. “We try to encourage whoever comes that it’s good to make mistakes. Only through mistakes can you be presented with an opportunity to try something new, or make something better.”

The Englert’s crowd should be on the lookout for improvisation and anticipate a concert, an aerobics exercise, perhaps a touch of magic, but absolutely no Mozart.     

The duo has been teasing fans for years with promises of “and now Mozart,” cementing it as a catch phrase. Though who knows, this could be the show in which their promise is finally fulfilled. Either way, be prepared for a new impression of Beethoven, Mozart, or Handel.

“What we would love is for people to leave our shows feeling creative, whether it’s in music or in their own mind,” Joo said. “This is the one goal that we have.”

Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $35

Facebook Comments