Madcap Musical Virtuosi Igudesman & Joo Bring Serious Fun to Concerts

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

U.S. Press Contact: Diane Blackman
BR Public Relations/ Ph: 212.245.5125

Madcap Musical Virtuosi Igudesman & Joo Bring Serious Fun to Concerts
YouTube Favorites with over 30 Million Views Mix Classical Music, Comedy & Theatre

Upcoming Performance:  January 24, 2013 8:00 PM The Lyric Theatre

Igudesman & Joo are so white hot that Vanity Fair Magazine’s 2012 year-end issue featured them in a piece written by James Bond, aka Sir Roger Moore.
Millions of YouTube viewers can’t be wrong. Well they can, but they aren’t, and they’ve turned the inspired lunacy of musicians Igudesman & Joo into an internet and international sensation.  Finding inspiration from such classical comedic forefathers as Victor Borge and P.D.Q. Bach, the duo relishes overturning traditional attitudes towards classical music. Like their predecessors, they are serious musicians who have turned the world’s most esteemed concert halls into standing- room only comedy clubs.

Think Mozart hijacked by Monty Python and you have some idea of the mayhem created at the highest level of musicianship on worldwide stages--and immortalized on videos with more than 30 million views--by violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-ki Joo, classically-trained artists who bring an uproarious, sidesplitting approach to the concert performance. 

In 2013, Igudesman & Joo return to the U.S. for a multi-city tour, following last year’s triumphant U.S. debuts. From Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl and the Kennedy Center, they had audiences and serious critics alike not just raving but rolling in the aisles. 

Igudesman & Joo’s aim is to make classical music more accessible to the public. For them, the mix of music, comedy and theatre is its own art form. Comedic as well as musical virtuosi, they kick the stuffing out of classical music, mixing genres and styles with hearty doses of humor and theatricality. Yet, while their spin may be irreverent, they always treat the music with the utmost respect. In fact, many of the classical music world’s biggest names are among their biggest fans. 

At a time when the audience for classical music is declining, scores of college students and young children who know nothing about Bach are attending the duo's concerts around the world along with musical connoisseurs. They've made Igudesman & Joo star attractions. In fact, their strongest demographic in the U.S. is among 15 to 35-year-olds, and at a critical time for the industry, the duo are actually building a younger audience for classical music. 

The Los Angeles Times said of a recent performance, “Since one clip is worth a thousand words, describing the Igudesman & Joo humor in detail would be to deflate its brilliance. For the put-upon Igudesman, think Jack Benny and Jascha Heifetz rolled into one. For the zany Joo, try an unholy Chico Marx, Vladimir Horowitz and Jerry Lewis mash-up."

In their hit show “A Little Nightmare Music” -- which Python alumni Terry Jones raved, “brings surrealism to the concert hall and takes its trousers down” -- a vio¬lin¬ist can nod off and awake trans¬formed into a “River¬dancer,” and a pianist may find his keyboard locked and ordering him to insert his credit card for access. The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” might get an operetta makeover and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” barely survives Russianization.  Audiences crack up when Joo’s right hand seems to be amputated by a piano cover and then are spellbound when he returns to play Scriabin’s Nocturne for Left Hand. Igudesman shows that when his bow isn’t being sucked up by a vacuum cleaner, he can navigate enormously difficult passages with ease.  

The musical establishment whose legs they metaphorically pull may be the pair’s most enthusiastic supporters. Renowned artists such as pianist Emanuel Ax, violinists Gidon Kramer, Janine Jansen, Viktoria Mullova and Julian Rachlin have implored the cheeky duo to include them in skits. Conductor Bernard Haitink insisted they perform at his 80th birthday concert and violinist Joshua Bell has thrown lavish parties in their honor at his Manhattan home. 

 “All of the collaborations have come about because these artists have come to us and said ‘how can we be involved,’” Igudesman & Joo say. “A lot of ‘serious’ musicians dream about being onstage and letting loose.” Adds Emanuel Ax: “I had the time of my life when I first saw them live in action, and felt hon¬ored to put in a cameo in some of their nutty skits!” The YouTube performance with the acclaimed pianist is at once brilliant and insanely funny.

The partners in comic crime have also developed a huge celebrity following. For their 2012 Carnegie Hall, Billy Joel came on stage for an encore performance with the duo. John Malkovich has appeared in one of their skits. Yoko Ono attended their New York premiere. Catch their hilarious musical skits with John Malkovich on YouTube or backstage banter with Yo-Yo Ma, a self-declared Igudesman & Joo fan. 

Aleksey Igudesman, born in what was then Leningrad, and Hyung-ki Joo, a British-Korean, met as pre-teens when they studied at England’s Yehudi Menuhin School. Overcoming hate at first sight, the pair has forged an enduring musical and comedic marriage. They share more than the same funny bone; each cites Menuhin as an inspiration as well as mentor. “He was one of the most open-minded musicians and he enjoyed pushing boundaries so he played with people like sitar-great Ravi Shankar and jazz legend Stephane Grappelli,” the duo says. 

They bring the same passion to their outside projects. Despite all the fun, they are serious, highly respected musicians. Aleksey Igudesman has worked frequently with Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer, and composed and arranged music for both “Sherlock Holmes” movies as well as being a featured soloist on the first film’s Oscar-nominated score. Together they have also scored “Jealous of the Birds,” a Holocaust documentary. 

A prolific composer and poet, Igudesman has written a series of violin duets and more than 300 compositions, performed by internationally renowned soloists, ensembles and orchestras. As solo violinist and conductor, he has worked with Kremerata Baltica, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Belgrade Symphony Orchestra, Virtuosi Italiani, among other orchestras.

Hyung-ki Joo was cho¬sen by Billy Joel to arrange and record the pop star’s CD of clas¬si¬cal compo¬si¬tions.  As a soloist, he has performed with the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Kremerata Baltica, Copenhagen Philharmonic and Warsaw Sinfonia.  Joo also has developed innovative workshops for young musicians designed to help them to think outside the practice room, deal with their ambitions and fears and gain new perspectives on their careers. 

When asked how the dynamic duo sees their future, they simply reply: “At night we are writing our ground breaking TV series, which will change the color of chocolate and the world as we know it. Once we get it produced, we will buy Madison Square Garden and turn it into an intimate Chamber Music Hall!” 

A few of their immensely popular YouTube videos include: 

Mozart Bond -- 3,800,427
Rachmaninov Had Big Hands – 4,544,697 viewers
Manny’s Spring Sonata with Emanuel Ax – 159,322
We Will Survive – 1,454,079
Alla Molto Turca 897, 171
Being John Sabastian Bach with John Malkovich  -- 64,446
Montage of YouTube Clips – 1,464,646 viewers
World Record Most Dancing Violinists – 41,903

I & J’s website:

Press Contact: 
Diane Blackman/Maude Delice
BR Public Relations / 212.249.5125