Raise your batons!
The utterly uproarious virtuosos violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-Ki Joo are at it again with their delightfully daft orchestral show “UpBeat.” A follow up to their “BIG Nightmare Music,” “UpBeat” takes audiences on a madcap musical ride with stops at every conceivable genre from Ravel to rock, from hip-hop beats to would you believe tee-hee-hees. The show makes its US debut on March 3, 2016, when the Seattle Symphony Orchestra plays straight man to Igudesman & Joo.
The words “strike up the band”—or in this case orchestra—never had a more deliciously raucous meaning than when they signal the appearance of the pair, who do double duty as both conductors and soloists throughout “Upbeat.” Of course this being Igudesman & Joo, a baton quickly turns into “a weapon of mass conduction,” and the tug-of-war over who gets to give the initial upbeat has the concert off to a tumultuous start.
The orchestral merry-go-round span “Ring in the Classics,” Igudesman & Joo’s symphonic Nokia ringtone poem commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; “Winter Polka,” an epic exercise in coughing; “Horror Movie,” a brilliant paean to the creaky and crackling, the squeaks and squeals, sounds that frighten the living daylights out of filmgoers; “An Austrian in America” commissioned by the Pittsburg Symphony to honor its conductor Manfred Honeck…or at least they hoped it would; loop-the-loop with “Ride of the Oy Veykyries,” a lively, klezmer-infused version of Wagner’s most famous piece sure to have the grim German spinning in his grave; “Rush Hour” where a Moscow traffic jam provides fodder; “You Just Have to Laugh,” a kaleidoscope of chuckles, guffaws, and ha-ha-has where the entire philharmonic gets the giggles singing along with the audience; and, as if Greece didn’t have enough woes, Igudesman tries his best to help the beleaguered country out in a schizophrenic finale “Zorba the Geek.”
What others say
Prior to our thanksgiving concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Music Director Manfred Honeck and the dynamic duo Igudesman and Joo, there was much scepticism within the organization as to how the orchestra and audience would react. However, our minds were put at ease the minute they arrived! They were incredibly professional, obviously very talented, and provided a breath of fresh air for the orchestra and PSO staff. It was such a joy to have them with us, and we received such great feedback from our patrons and the musicians that we immediately reinvited them to join us for a special concert with the orchestra the following year!
“A Little Nightmare Music as a title is a misnomer… Igudesman and Joo are a DREAM …watch them!“