As a musical enthusiast, I appreciate a virtuostic player. But the concert hall is rarely the place you go for a few laughs. For tickets, go to tickets.mru.ca or call 403-440-7770.
Truthfully, it’s difficult to find a musical virtuoso with a sense of humour let alone comic timing. Those worlds rarely collide.
I do remember the first time I saw the late great Victor Borge lean forward from his piano bench to slap away the unsuspecting soprano soloist’s hand… repeatedly. I laughed every time it happened. Or the time where he played an unrecognizable selection and, while mugging to the audience, adjusted his glasses and turned the music sc
ore right-side up again to reveal it was Rossini’s William Tell Overture.
What made the comedy so great was that when it was time to actually play the piano, he was a master.
Since he died in 2000, there hasn’t been anyone to take up that esteemed mantle… until now. Enter Igudesman & Joo.
Russian violinist Aleksey Igudesman and British-Korean pianist Richard Hyung-ki Joo met while studying at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England when they were 12 years old. Little did they know at that time that they would be playing the prestigious Carnegie Hall… dressed in wigs while rapping.
When asked why they bring their comic talents to the often stuffy world of classical music, Igudesman says, “the music itself is not stuffy. It’s exciting. It’s fun.”
Their touring production entitled, “And Now Mozart” rarely features the music of the timeless composer. The duo might start with a recognizable sonata, but veer off into a disco or country feel with some upgraded lyrics. But Igudesman thinks Mozart would approve, “Mozart is crazy. Mozart is (was) funny.”
They have graced many great stages worldwide, and have worked with like-minded artists including the Piano Man himself… Billy Joel, who joined them onstage at Carnegie Hall. They’ve played with a range of collaborators, from acclaimed symphonies around the globe, to 80s pop band Tears for Fears. For them, it’s about two things; music and fun. “We don’t make fun of the music,” Igudesman warns, “we make fun with the music.”
Like other great comic pairings like Penn and Teller, Laurel & Hardy or (in their first act) Donald Trump & Sarah Palin, they have quite the following. Their YouTube Channel has videos that have received over 40 million views. So, they must be striking a nerve or hitting a funny bone.
Here in Calgary, the Bella Concert Hall has proven its worth as a suitable stage for virtuosos. With talents like Yuja Wang and Yi-Jia Susanne Hou, it’s easy to say that we’ve broken in the acoustics with style. But, how about the audiences? Igudesman & Joo may be the first ticket where the success of the show is truly based on audience reaction… in laughter.
The duo debuts as the Bella at 7:30pm on Sunday, February 28th. For tickets, go to tickets.mru.ca or call 403-440-7770.
Believe me, if Victor Borge was with us, he would be taking his seatbelt out of his piano bench and strapping in for a great night of music…with a lot of laughs.
See their video reel by clicking here.