Hav­ing taken the world by storm with their unique and comedic the­atri­cal per­for­mances, clas­si­cal mu­si­cians Alek­sey Igudes­man and Hyung-ki Joo are ready for a con­cert to be held at the Ha­gia Eirene to­mor­row

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - ZEYNEP ESRA İSTANBULLU - IS­TAN­BUL

names of clas­si­cal mu­sic, Alek­sey Igudes­man and Hyung-ki Joo, who are get­ting ready to per­form at the Ha­gia Eirene to­mor­row with their unique in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the genre com­bined with comedic the­atri­cal per­for­mances, gave an in­ter­view for Daily Sabah

THE TURKCELL Plat­inum Is­tan­bul Night Flight con­certs will be held be­tween Sept. 15 and Oct. 29 this year and the first con­cert of the se­ries, given by the world fa­mous duo Igudes­man & Joo, who have made a break­through with their shows which bring au­di­ence mem­bers a fu­sion of mu­sic and comedy, will take the stage at Ha­gia Eirene on the night of Sept. 15.

The duo has bro­ken records in terms of on­line view­ers, with more than 35 mil­lion views on Youtube to this day.

In­cor­po­rat­ing a lit­tle bit of magic in their shows, Alek­sey Igudes­man & Hyung-ki Joo will in­clude ev­ery­body into the show and per­form a con­cert full of laugh­ter.


Hyung-ki Joo will give a beau­ti­ful con­cert per­form­ing on a Stein­way & Sons pi­ano, one of the best pi­ano brands in the en­tire world since 1853. His unique mu­si­cal con­cert, or­ga­nized at Ha­gia Eirene, will be held in the first yard of the Top­kapı Palace. The per­fect sound of the pi­ano un­der the vir­tu­os­ity of Joo will at­tract all lis­ten­ers in the his­tor­i­cal at­mos­phere of Ha­gia Eirene. On the eve of to­mor­row’s up­com­ing per­for­mance, Daily Sabah con­ducted an in­ter­view with the duo on their in­spi­ra­tion and aims.

DAILY SABAH: As two sep­a­rate clas­si­cal mu­si­cians, how did your paths cross and how did you de­cide to form a duo?

IGUDES­MAN & JOO: We met at the Ye­hudi Menuhin School and it was hate at first sight for the first year, as a mat­ter of fact. Alek­sey was con­stantly beat­ing Hyung-ki up. It was only af­ter a year of suf­fer­ing bruises that Hyung-ki of­fered Alek­sey some fish and chips and Alek­sey could not re­sist the op­por­tu­nity for a bite to eat. Since then, we’ve be­come friends and part­ners, es­pe­cially in food and mu­sic. If we were not in­volved in mu­sic, theater, the stage, com­po­si­tion and writ­ing - quite unimag­in­able feats for us - we would prob­a­bly both be cooks in a sushi restau­rant in Ky­oto.

We have al­ways been very close to theater, cin­ema and act­ing. As a teenager, Alek­sey went through a phase where he read all the works of Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and An­ton Chekhov. We have both com­pleted many projects on and off stage, writ­ten mu­sic for the stage and the screen, and acted in shows and plays. So, we were far from new in terms of the field. Peo­ple who trusted us with our first show, al­ready knew what we are ca­pa­ble of. In­ter­est­ingly enough, our first per­for­mance was in one of the most prestigious venues in the world, the Musikverein in Vi­enna.

D.S.: You make a unique stage per­for­mance that blends clas­si­cal mu­sic with funny shows. How would you de­scribe your mo­ti­va­tion and your unique style?

I &J: For us, there has never been any dis­tinc­tion be­tween “se­ri­ous” and “fun.” We have fun se­ri­ously and we try to have fun be­ing se­ri­ous. Back at the Ye­hudi Menuhin School in Eng­land, where we met at the age of 12, we were al­ways lis­ten­ing to and watching great co­me­di­ans, in tan­dem with other great per­form­ers. We were in­flu­enced by peo­ple who were won­der­ful mu­si­cians and had a great sense of hu­mor, such as Vic­tor Borge, Dudley Moore and even Glenn Gould, who did some sketches for Cana­dian TV, which many peo­ple don’t know.

Even the great vi­o­lin­ist Ye­hudi Menuhin him­self, who Alek­sey was lucky enough to have lessons with, spread the word of be­ing open to all things and not just “clas­si­cal mu­sic” it­self. How­ever, we have also been in­flu­enced by var­i­ous types of non­clas­si­cal mu­sic, like Frank Zappa, Queen, The Bea­tles, Pink Floyd and Billy Joel, who Hyung-ki has worked closely with for many years.

D.S.: Where do you get your in­spi­ra­tion?

I &J: We are each other’s muses. How­ever, we draw in­spi­ra­tion from any­thing and every­thing that has hap­pened since the be­gin­ning of time, be it Mozart, Mar­malade or Mada­gas­car.

An idea of­ten comes to us rather quickly and we make sure that we write it down im­me­di­ately. Some­times, this idea will fes­ter for years be­fore we dig it up. Af­ter the ini­tial idea is es­tab­lished, it is a long process of try­ing things out and im­pro­vis­ing with re­gard to our ideas. We some­times film our­selves while do­ing that. Dur­ing film­ing, a lot of other crazy stuff hap­pens. Then, we try to put it into form and into a shape, try­ing to no­tate it as pre­cisely as pos­si­ble, af­ter which an­other elim­i­na­tion process starts. We cut sec­tions, im­prove them and move them around. In no case would we write a piece or a sketch and it is done. To the con­trary, we im­prove our pieces through per­for­mances and re­hearsals, even over the course of many years. To sum it up, some ideas we throw on stage im­me­di­ately and im­prove dur­ing live per­for­mances, since we do love to im­pro­vise. How­ever, other pieces re­quire years be­fore we can ac­tu­ally do them in con­cert.

D.S.: How do crit­ics and the au­di­ence around the world re­act to your work as it is quite ex­tra­or­di­nary?

I &J: We have been very blessed with good crit­ics from the press and a pos­i­tive re­sponse from the pub­lic; es­pe­cially from great mu­si­cians. Whether or not things will stay this way re­mains to be seen. The pub­lic is un­der­stand­ably en­thu­si­as­tic: The reg­u­lar con­cert breaks out of its rou­tine and goes off in a new, fresher di­rec­tion, with hu­mor and mu­sic that we hope will be fun and orig­i­nal and of high qual­ity.

From a pro­fes­sional stand­point, we have got­ten won­der­ful feed­back so far, even from great artists such as Ju­lian Rach­lin, Ja­nine Jansen, Mis­cha Maisky, Emanuel Ax and Gi­don Kre­mer, all of whom we have had the great plea­sure of per­form­ing with and in­clud­ing in var­i­ous, comedic ways in our per­for­mances. With Gi­don Kre­mer and the Kre­mer­ata Baltica, we even launched a joint project ti­tled, “Be­ing Gi­don Kre­mer,” which has gone on tour ex­ten­sively in re­cent years.

D.S: Can we say that your aim is to make clas­si­cal mu­sic more popular and more widely ap­pre­ci­ated?

I &J: The mas­ter­pieces of great com­posers are im­por­tant and re­quire deep re­spect. We never laugh at the mu­sic, we laugh with the mu­sic and at the mu­sic es­tab­lish­ment. We also laugh about how se­ri­ous we all take our­selves. How­ever, mu­sic is still num­ber one for us - and be­lieve me - Mozart liked a good joke. Brahms not so much, but Mozart did.

From a young age and on­ward, we felt that the en­tire busi­ness and the cer­e­mony sur­round­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic was much too se­ri­ous for its own good. We also dis­cov­ered that peo­ple are afraid of go­ing to con­certs. Some of our aim is to dis­pel this fear by mak­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic more ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic. We al­ways try to write on var­i­ous mu­si­cal lev­els. We do this so that in a sin­gle mo­ment, an 8-year-old will have some­thing to laugh about while a clas­si­cal mu­sic con­nois­seur and some­one who has never heard a sin­gle note of clas­si­cal mu­sic may also en­joy and ap­pre­ci­ate the show in their own way.

D.S.: Do you mix lo­cal gen­res with clas­si­cal mu­sic in your per­for­mances? Should we ex­pect a Turk­ish folk mu­sic or arabesque piece to be mixed on the Is­tan­bul stage?

I &J: We want to sur­prise ev­ery­one but have you seen our Youtube video in which we play Mozart’s Turk­ish March, “Rondo alla Turca?” Our show is an in­ter­na­tional show and uses lit­tle lan­guage. What­ever lan­guage might be used, it is sec­ondary to the pre­sen­ta­tion. It is not im­por­tant to un­der­stand the hu­mor of a sketch, how­ever, we do our very best to adapt those bits of lan­guage into the lo­cal lan­guage, wher­ever and when­ever pos­si­ble. We have man­aged to per­form the show in French, Ger­man, Ital­ian, Span­ish, Rus­sian and even Korean, hav­ing used phrases and sen­tences in Ja­panese, Malaysian, Man­darin and Can­tonese as well. For us, what is won­der­ful about this is see­ing the var­i­ous ways peo­ple from all parts of the world re­act to dif­fer­ent parts of our show. Hu­mor is the same everywhere but ev­ery cul­ture has its own “pref­er­ences.” For in­stance, some na­tions laugh more about slap­stick hu­mor while oth­ers pre­fer mu­si­cal or lin­guis­tic jokes.

Alek­sey Igudes­man & Hyung-ki Joo

The duo in­cludes the au­di­ence in the show and per­forms con­certs full of laugh­ter.

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