Going to a violin concert may not sound like an ideal way for kids to spend their weekend but last Saturday was different.
Hundreds of people of all races, ethnicities and ages crammed into the newly renovated Flushing Town Hall to listen to some classical violin music “with some stank on it.”
At least, that’s what the duo Black Violin calls their music.
“We first met when we were in high school orchestra in Florida,” violinist Kev Marcus said to a jiving crowd. “We were learning Bach and Beethoven but whenever we weren’t in class, we’d take out our instruments and just improvise.”
The two even received full scholarships to college for music.
Marcus and his musical partner, Wil B, who plays a viola he named Tiffany, were electric on stage even with such a wide demographic in the audience.
“We know different people are going to like different parts of the show but when you look up and you see 80-year-old women with their canes dancing around to the same thing as an 8-year-old kid, it’s an amazing thing,” Wil B said.
Earlier that day, the two ran a workshop on music improvisation where 30 or so students experimented with their sounds and learned to think outside the box.
Several students showed off their skills during Black Violin’s performance as they played along to some of the duo’s singles off their latest album, “Classically Trained.”
Pairing two music genres is not a new concept but Black Violin does it in such a way that it feels fresh. What could have easily been gimmicky and fake is rich and full of surprises.
“We love what we do but we also let kids know that we didn’t start playing this way from the beginning,” Marcus said. “We learned the basics and we followed the classic composers while being hip-hop heads and listening to Wu Tang and other artists. It took us a while to feel comfortable enough to bring the two together.”
Wil B, who is also a gifted singer, performed a spectacular reggae-infused version of “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, using his viola as a guitar and a loop machine to add layers.
Another popular segment of the show was a mash-up of a number of popular songs including “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Treasure” by Bruno Mars. When the duo finished, a little boy turned to his mother, jumping up and down with excitement.
“Marvelous! Marvelous! I am buying their CD now,” he shouted.
Many of the young attendees had similar responses.
Kev Marcus and Wil B not only perform as their own act but have played with big names including Linkin Park, Alicia Keys and Kanye West.
Many of the kids, especially the boys, were very impressed by all the musicians the young men worked with but Black Violin was quick to tell everyone that it didn’t come easily to them.
“We want all of you to know that the most important key to succeeding is to out-work everyone,” Marcus said. “There are talented people out there who are just sitting in their basements ,but the people who do well are the ones who work harder than everyone else.”
After the concert, Black Violin, as they do at every show, stayed to meet every fan. Almost two hundred people lined up to get the duo’s autographs.
“This is the best job in the world,” Wil B said. “I have fun every day and we feel so fortunate to be able to do what we love. These instruments have taken us to so many places.”