IGUDESMAN & JOO — A unique collaboration
Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo are two classical musicians who have taken the world by storm with their unique and hilarious theatrical shows, which combine comedy with classical music and popular culture. Their clips on YouTube, to date, have gathered over 28 million hits, and the duo has appeared on television in numerous countries. Equally comfortable performing in classical concert halls, as well as in stadiums in front of crowds of 18,000, their collective dream is to make classical music accessible to a wider and younger audience.
Aleksey and Hyung-ki met at the age of twelve, at the Yehudi Menuhin School, in England, and since then, have remained strong friends and writing partners. In 2004, following in the footsteps of luminaries such as Victor Borge and Dudley Moore, they created their first groundbreaking show, “A Little Nightmare Music”. Since then, they have performed as a duo, and as soloists, with chamber and symphony orchestras at many of the world’s biggest stages and festivals.
Many of classical music’s biggest names, such as Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Janine Jansen, Gidon Kremer, Mischa Maisky, Viktoria Mullova, and Julian Rachlin, have joined them in their musical sketches. Aleksey and Hyung-ki have also teamed up with actors, such as John Malkovich, and former James Bond, Sir Roger Moore, on several occasions in aid of UNICEF.
Individually, Aleksey Igudesman has worked with musicians ranging from Academy® Award-winning Hollywood composer, Hans Zimmer, to multi Grammy® Award-winning vocalist, Bobby McFerrin. Hyung-ki Joo, has worked with Academy® Award-winning composer, Vangelis, and was chosen by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Billy Joel, to arrange and record Joel’s classical compositions on a CD, which reached no.1 on the Billboard Charts.
Igudesman & Joo can be seen in several films, including their own “Mockumentary”, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Classical Music”.
Besides touring “A Little Nightmare Music”, they also perform “BIG Nightmare Music”, with symphony orchestras, and lead their workshop “8 To 88 — Musical Education for Children of All Ages” at universities and music schools around the world, leaving students inspired and confident to break new grounds for their own musical journeys.
On New Year’s Eve, 2011, at the Vienna Konzerthaus, with the help of 100 violinists from all over the world, Igudesman & Joo set the world record for the most “Dancing Violinists” performing together on stage. The world record was conceived and produced by the duo in aid of UNICEF.
Aleksey Igudesman was born in Leningrad at a very young age. He has never won any competitions, mainly because he has never entered any. During his studies at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School, he read the entire plays of Bernhard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and Anton Chekhov, which didn’t improve his violin playing, but made him feel foolishly somewhat superior to other less intellectually endowed, yet harder practising colleagues. After studying with Boris Kuschnir at the Vienna Conservatoire and being told many times by many people that they were rather worried about his future, he embarked on a successful career playing, composing, and arranging for his string trio, “Triology”, recording several CD’s for BMG, working in Hollywood with Academy Award® winner Hans Zimmer, and performing with Bobby McFerrin, Julian Rachlin, Janine Jansen, Sir Roger Moore, John Malkovich, and other people who are less famous, but just as great.
Aleksey Igudesman writes a lot of music. Often he goes to bed writing and gets up writing. He sometimes feels a little insecure about his music, although it is published by Universal Edition, and tries to compensate for it by being rather extrovert. In fact, his psychiatrist tells him that he is insecure about a lot of things. Aleksey is not so sure about that.
Back at school he met his “IGUDESMAN & JOO” partner, Hyung-ki Joo. After a few initial small differences, resulting in several people holding them both back from smashing chairs and music stands on each other’s heads, Joo offered Igudesman some fish and chips, which he simply could not refuse. This in turn led to collaboration over many years, which culminated in the creation of “A Little Nightmare Music”, a show they tour together making people laugh.
Aleksey Igudesman plays with a bow made by the Boston-based bowmaker, Benoit Roland, and on a Santo Seraphin violin from the year 1717, which is kindly loaned to him by ERSTE BANK.
Hyung-ki Joo was born. He is British, but looks Korean, or the other way around, or both. He showed his first signs of a sense of comedy whilst nappy-changing and shortly thereafter, showed his love for music when his parents would find him at the record store listening for hours to everything from Mozart to Bee Gees. (Although the two are never to be confused, Hyung-ki is often heard singing “Don Giovanni” in the style of Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees).
He started piano lessons at the age of eight and a half and two years later won a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School. There, he discovered that he was among geniuses and child prodigies and was convinced he would be kicked out of school, year after year. In fact, he was not kicked “out” but kicked “around” by teachers and fellow students, such as Aleksey Igudesman. After these painful experiences, Joo invented a new type of piano playing known as “Karate Piano”. No matter how difficult his years at the school may have been, it only strengthened his love of music, and he also realised that the world of classical music had little to do with the spirit in which the music was created and so began dreaming of a way to bring this great music to a wider and newer audience– a dream which has been realised through his show: “IGUDESMAN & JOO: A Little Nightmare Music”.
Hyung-ki has small hands, (but only hands small), and therefore finds some piano repertoire quite difficult to play, such as the music of Rachmaninov, who had Big Hands. Anyway, even with this small hindrance, he happily performs chamber music, recitals, concertos, his own compositions, and anything else that includes a piano part. Besides composing, performing, laughing, brushing his teeth at breakneck speed, and writing comedy, Joo’s passion for teaching has led him to develop his own personal style of workshops.
“Stunning to hear in concert– he is a virtuoso” PAUL SIMON