The classical music comedy duo TwoSetViolin currently have over 4 million subscribers on their YouTube channel, and I’ve been following them since 2017 or so. In their videos, they mix light-hearted skits and violin games with genuine masterful performances of difficult repertoire in the classical music world. I’ve been watching their videos so much that I now associate the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Eddy’s 3 million subscriber livestream performance from 2021, and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Brett’s 4 million subscriber performance with the Singapore Symphony last year.
Currently, they are finishing up their World Tour, of which they’ve been to Hong Kong and throughout Europe, and now the U.S.A. On October 1st, they went to the midwest to perform at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s beautiful Symphony Center, and I went down with a friend to go and see them live! The first thing I remembered about the venue was that distinctive red carpet leading up the stairs - back in 2014, I heard the CSO play Dvorak 9 (and I believe blogged about it here…), and I haven’t been back since. That was a great memory to have as we walked in - the check had ran late from dinner at a Cuban restaurant nearby, so we sadly missed their pianist, Sophie’s, lovely performance at the start. However, we walked through the doors just as Brett and Eddy walked onto the stage, and it was so surreal seeing them in the flesh and not just on a computer or phone screen!
I won’t do a blow-by-blow of the entire performance here. However, it was not a normal classical music performance - this one had a whole story arc throughout it with videos playing on the projector screen of the Academy challenging them to play various difficult pieces. How they interweaved scales and arpeggios, a common warm-up for all musicians and opener of an audition, into gorgeous musical lines that went through the circle of fifths, was stunning. I enjoyed their iconic hula hooping while playing Massenet’s Meditation - I can’t even do one of those activities well! (This was based on a skit from their first World Tour.) One of the violin games they play on their channel is Violin Charades, and they put together a Violin Charades Concerto based on sounds of the city, which fit with where we were in Chicago. The funniest moment was when Brett had an audience member spin the Wheel of Concertos, and the audience member actually spun it in such a way that it landed on that piece!
But through the heartfelt story about passion and practice over talent, what really sold the show were their performances at the end of the night: the Handel Passacaglia for Violin and Viola, re-arranged for two violins (and with some modern variations more in the style of Paganini added at the end for flair), with the precise double-stop thirds to the clean and shimmering artificial harmonics, left me in awe. They played something else after that but unfortunately I didn’t write that down after the show…
We did get stopped by a fan after who had on their 4 mil sweatshirt of the Mendelssohn and gave us concert ticket pouches to keep ticket stubs in, which was really cool! The design was based on their background where they record, showing their violins of course, their 40 hours a day sign, bubble tea, a metronome, their plant… It’s super cute, and made me very happy to have!
All in all, seeing some of my favorite YouTubers live in a show was incredible and inspiring for me to keep practicing! I was even so excited before the show I walked around my house playing the Sibelius on my violin before we left for the city. This is going to be a performance I won’t ever forget, and it had been so fun throughout last week to tell my friends and colleagues about it. Now I’ll be keeping an eye out on their channel for their U.S.A. vlog when it comes out!Tweet
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