By Paul Kalis
On Saturday, April 26 at 8 p.m., Aleksey Igudesman and Richard Hyung-ki Joo, a musicians duo, aims to make classical music accessible to a wider and younger audience. The duo will bring their comedy, “A Little Nightmare Music,” to the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. The show will feature classical music and pop culture.
The Pioneer had the chance to speak with Igudesman and Joo to find out exactly what the LIU Post community will be in for when the YouTube favorites, with over 30 million views, take the stage. Their show, with Igudesman on violin and Joo on piano, has been described as a “Bach meets the Simpsons/Mozart hijacked by Monty Python” experience.
Discounted student tickets are available for $15 at the Tilles Center box office.
The Pioneer (TP): What kind of show can the LIU Post community expect?
Igudesman & Joo (I&J): If we had to describe it in one sentence, we would say “Monty Python meets Mozart, or South Park meets Bach.”
It’s something between a concert and a show, with a mix of comedy, theatre, and many types of music. You can be six years old or as young as 90 years old, a lover of classical music or someone who has never even heard of Mozart.
TP: On March 11, you uploaded a video entitled “Whoop Dee Doo with Igudesman & Joo,” announcing the performance at Tilles. Since then, it has garnished over 8,620 views. How did the concept come about?
I&J: We owe much of our success and popularity to the Internet and
in particular, YouTube. Before YouTube, we were not on the general public’s radar, but since our first clips went viral, we’ve been able to enjoy touring all over the world. The Tilles Center is a big date for us, and since having played the New Year’s Eve concert with the New York Philharmonic, we were dying to return to perform for one of our favorite audiences: the New York audience.
TP: Long Island’s own Billy Joel is one of your fans, has performed with you, and requested you record his CD of classical compositions titled “Fantasies & Delusions.” Tell The Pioneer about the dynamic you three have together.
I&J: Working with Billy Joel was an absolute joy. He is a great ambassador for classical music and he is one of the funniest guys we know. Hyung-ki Joo worked with Joel and recorded his classical album of piano pieces, and Aleksey Igudesman performed the violin solo on Joel’s song “Downeaster Alexa,” when Joel was on tour in Europe, and since, we have all got to know each other very well.
TP: Besides performing at Tilles, how has your Long Island experience been?
I&J: We have spent quite a lot of time on Long Island, as we have a
few friends out here. Joo studied at the Manhattan School of Music for many years so Long Island was a Jitney trip away. Long Island is very picturesque being next to the ocean and waters. We’ve also eaten some of the best clams and oysters here.
TP: What advice do you have for college students, specifically Music, Film, and Broadcast majors who want to get ahead or break into the business?
I&J: We believe in creativity, and the most important thing we’d like to leave behind is inspiring people to be creative, whether it’s in their music, their work, or their life. We believe that creativity moves the world forward and enhances the environment around us. It’s one of the reasons we came up with our educational program, “8to88.” The program is for children of all ages, and it explores often-ignored and less-practiced aspects of music making, such as theatricality, stage presence and presentation, movement and choreography, and different types of rhythm. We will present our “8to88” at the Tilles Center a few hours earlier on the same day of our show.
TP: You are building a younger audience for classical music while millions of college students and children know nothing about the genre. What inspired this direction?
I&J: When we were studying at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England, we both felt that the world of classical music was taking itself way too seriously. Going to a concert often resembled a funeral rather than being a celebration of life, and while a lot of music is serious and tragic, the whole ceremony surrounding classical music need not be so serious and elitist. This is one of the main reasons why so many people, and especially so many young people, are afraid of going to classical concerts and we dreamt of changing this.
TP: As a send off, tell us about one of your YOLO moments.
I&J: For us, it would be a YOLT (You Only Live Twice) moment, when former James Bond, Sir Roger Moore, joined us to set the world record for the most Dancing Violinists on stage at one time. The record was in aid of UNICEF, and we had 100 violinists volunteer from all over the world to help make this come true.