Mozart meets Monty Python in Lyric performance

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

By Shelley Koppel
Staff writer/Your Voice News & Views

STUART - Their manic musical mayhem has attracted 30 million YouTube viewers. They're classically trained musicians who have made classical music hip.  "They" are Russian-born violinist Aleksy Igudesman and British pianist Hyung-ki Joo, known as Igudesman & Joo. In a recent phone call from their home base in Vienna, Austria, the pair explained the lunacy that has made fans of everyone from Joshua Bell to Billy Joel.

"For those slightly more mature, we like to say it's 'Monty Python' meets Mozart," Joo said. "For the younger audiences, we say it's 'South Park' meets Bach." "It has a lot of lunacy," Igudesman added. "We don't make fun of the music, we make the music fun. We like to run things upside down. We love it when things go wrong. That's when the fun begins for us. When things go too quietly, people tend to fall asleep. We've planted seeds to make things go wrong, I can pretty much guarantee the audience won't fall asleep."

The two met as pre-teens at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School in England. They remained friends, to their surprise, and created their show, "A Little Nightmare Music," as a way to entertain those who know classical music and those who don't. "So many young people come to our show and get inspired to learn about music or learn an instrument," Joo said. "It puts us over the moon." "We wanted to create a concert and show that we'd like to go to," Igudesman said. "We want to break down barriers set up over the last century. What we do is quite retro. The same composers we glorify today were the ones having fun. Mozart and Verdi were popular, people whistled their themes. We don't differentiate between classical and pop composers. We like to combine and show parallels." Indeed, one of their most popular numbers, shown on YouTube,' is the Gloria Gaynor anthem, "I Will Survive." "It combines many things,'" Igudesman said. "It's funny and for us, it draws parallels. It has the same harmonic structure as Tchaikovsky. We make bridges and have fun doing that."

The duo is very popular with those 15-35 and they are thrilled that YouTube and iTunes have made their musical accessible to a younger audience who may then become the concert-goers of tomorrow. They designed "A Little Nightmare Music" to be attractive to audiences of all ages. "We mix it up with humor," Igudesman said. "It's more attractive for a younger audience or an audience who is not very familiar (with classical music) but a lot of people who love classical music can enjoy it, too." Joo said that it was common to have three generations of a family in an audience. "We have quite a few pictures with three generations," he said.  Our show is for audiences from 8-88. In Florida, we've extended it to 108."

Igudesman & Joo bring "A Little Nightmare Music" to the Lyric Theatre, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart, on Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $40. Call the box office at (772) 286-7827 or order online at