Igudesman & Joo bring Nightmare Music to town with cheer

One look at their Youtube videos will show that there is something different about Aleksey Igudesman & Hyung-ki Joo. Whether they are playing violin in boxer shorts or singing “I Will Survive” in a high pitch that it clearly wasn’t meant for, they are always trying to keep their act interesting.

Their humor isn’t lost even when giving interviews. “Whatever you ask, we have set answers anyway,” says Igudesman in an interview with The Corsair through Skype.

“’So how many girls have you slept with this year?’ Then we’ll just say, ‘we love coming to America and performing there.’”

Igudesman & Joo, as they are commonly known, are a comedic classical music duo whose best description lies somewhere between Mozart and Monty Python.

They tour the world and show off their comedic act through stage shows and workshops in hopes of converting non-classical music fans and showing that classical music need not be as stiff as its image.

The title of their show, “A Little Nightmare Music,” is meant to elicit chaos within the context of classical music. “We don’t make fun of the music,” says Igudesman. “It’s more about making fun of the stiff surroundings of classical music.”

The duo has been working together ever since they attended the Yehudi Menuhin School in England, though they both attest that they were not immediate friends. “When Hyung-ki says we didn’t get on so well, that is very very very mildly stating it. We hated each other’s guts,” says Igudesman.

“Then one day he came into my room and offered me some fish and chips, which is the local delicacy in England,” says Igudesman. “I hate him, but I love fish and chips. I opted for the food and ever since we’ve been inseparable.”

Since then, Joo says they always joked around and wrote skits for parties or cabaret.

“When we write, it’s like ping-pong played by two Chinese whiz kids. Not that I’m Chinese,” says Joo, who’s of Korean descent. “If one person hits the ball with an idea the other one hits it back.”

According to Joo, even with touring the world over, the one thing that gets them both going is their workshops. “We love having the chance to work with students and giving them the chance to try out some aspects of music making that we found very ignored in formal training,” says Joo.

Their series of workshops, entitled “8 to 88," signify the varied age groups they hope to draw in to their unique experience.

“We try to loosen up the classical players up. We improve and use movement,” says Igudesman. “We think that through movement you can achieve more freedom when you’re playing, and it could be a lot more fun.”

Igudesman & Joo bring their antics to The Broad Stage this Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m.

They will also hold their workshop “8 to 88” at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music on Oct. 14 at 5 p.m. and at SOL-LA Music Academy located at 1812 Stanford Street in Santa Monica on Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. and at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach at 2:00 p.m. on Oct. 16.

Visit UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music website
Visit Sol-La Music Academy website
Learn more about Igudesman and Joo.