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Classical 101

Classical Music: Relevant, or Relic?

Igudesman & Joo
Image courtesy of the artist


A recent ProMusica Chamber Orchestra concert combined two of my favorite things…great music – and laughter.  

It was an opportunity to allow a peek behind the powdered wigs many believe musicians and composers wear and poke a little fun at ourselves.

Sitting in the audience for ProMusica’s performance with Igudesman and Joo was the concert equivalent of When Worlds Collide.



I can hear the urgent tones of a 1950′s announcer now…”The buttoned up world of Bach and Mozart was rocked today when Igudesman and Joo hit the music world’s atmosphere in a ball of flame.”

One minute you’re listening to Mozart, then Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff are tossed in a blender with Disco, an 80′s techno-pop hair band, kung fu violin, and James Bond, until you wind up with a musical goulash.

Some might say this ruins a perfectly good evening of music.  Others relish the opportunity to poke occasional fun at an art form in which an ill-place clap, untimely rustle, or squirmy youngster can send shock waves rippling through the auditorium.  I’m not saying we should throw decorum out the window, but it is this perceived pretentiousness and haughtiness which helps keep many potential audience members away.  I don’t know when to clap…I don’t know anything about classical music…do I have to wear a suit?

My friend Nat Chaitkin, who is a cellist with ProMusica and teaches at theUniversity of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, writes that Igudesman and Joo made it possible for everyone to get the joke.  Nat is also working to break down walls with his traveling program Bach and Boombox.  In his latest blog, he goes a little deeper into why Igudesman and Joo are good for classical music lovers, likers, and newcomers alike.

Read Grab a Hammer (Bach and Boombox)