Another string to their bow as duo play it for laughs

Comedy and classical music aren’t mutually exclusive, as a pair of virtuoso players will prove at the NCH tonight, writes Jo Kerrigan.

Another string to their bow as duo play it for laughs

TONIGHT brings a chance to hear two amazing classical musicians, Alexsey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo.

Their double act surpasses anything you’ve heard before. Think Mozart hijacked by Monty Python, South Park blended with Bach, The Simpsons seguing into West Side Story, and you have some idea of the mayhem created at the highest level of musicianship by two gifted artists.

The two make their Irish debut at the National Concert Hall with a Christmas-themed programme of musical comedy, ‘A Little Silent Night Music’.

This pair are unforgettable, both in their command of their instruments and in their inspired onstage insanity. This is the team that got the New York Philharmonic performing an Irish step dance, that secured the world record for ‘the most dancing violinists on stage’. Every performance they give is a one-off classic. Check them out on YouTube.

Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo met as 12-year-olds at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England and since then have remained friends and writing partners.

In 2004, they created their first show, ‘A Little Nightmare Music’, and performed it worldwide.

We spoke when the two were taking a break at their Austrian base. Despite jet lag and exhaustion, they were delightfully friendly and talkative. Being such a side-splittingly funny duo onstage, though, do they need to get away from each other when they’re off?

“Oh no, we are best friends, really,” says Joo. “I think we fight so much on stage that offstage there is no stress left! We will have lunch together, laugh and discuss some new ideas for the show — even when we’ve been touring worldwide non-stop, for the past month and a half, we are still getting on well.”

And how do they feel about performing in Dublin? Although Igudesman & Joo have never been here as a duo, they both know and love Ireland. “I grew up in the UK,” says Joo, “and, of course, I know lots of Irish people. They are the funniest and most adorable people, and this, I think, will make our comedy quite difficult there, to be good enough for you,” he says.

Igudesman has been to Ireland before and reveals a secret. “Yes, I won an international busking competition in Kilkenny, with a trio I had at the time! We won enough money to go to the pub that night, where we met such wonderful Irish musicians and a spoon player I will never forget, and so much more. We are so delighted to be coming to the NCH. Heaven knows what will happen this time,” he says.

With regard to their music, they confirm that they have long had the desire to reach a broad audience. “At the Yehudi Menhuin School, we couldn’t understand why some classical players looked down their noses at other forms of music. We think that Beethoven and the Beatles, Mozart and Madonna, are all valid. We want our music to be accessible to all ages and all kinds of people,” Igudesman says.

And do they now get the mix of audiences they really want? “Yes, we are very lucky. We get people who know nothing about classical music, there are children, there are older people who do know their music, and everybody has a good time. It is wonderful to hear the giggles of the children, the guffaws of teenagers, and the delighted laughter of adults who realise that we’ve crossed completely from one form to another without their realising it.”

  • Igudesman & Joo — A Liittle Silent Night Music, National Concert Hall, Dublin tonight, 8pm. 01-4170000 or www.nch.ie

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