Photo : Julia Wesely
Millions of YouTube viewers can’t be wrong. Well, they can, but in this case they aren’t. On the contrary, with more than 50 million clicks, they’ve turned the inspired lunacy of musicians IGUDESMAN & JOO into an internet and international sensation.
In their unique and hilarious theatrical shows, Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo combine humour, classical music and allusions to pop culture. They’ve performed with some of the world’s most famous orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the L.A. Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, to name but a few.
Equally at home in classical concert halls as in 18,000-seat stadiums, IGUDESMAN & JOO’s infectious zaniness and virtuosity has also inspired millions of college and high-school students, bringing a younger and wider audience to classical music at this challenging time for the industry.
Aleksey and Hyung-ki met at the age of twelve at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England, where they became friends over a portion of fish and chips. In 2004, following in the footsteps of luminaries Victor Borge and Dudley Moore, they began to create their ground-breaking shows. Since then, many of the world’s most renowned musicians have asked to be part of their musical mayhem, including Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Ray Chen, Janine Jansen, Gidon Kremer, Viktoria Mullova, Vasily Petrenko, Julian Rachlin, and Yuja Wang. The two have also teamed up with John Malkovich, on the CD album, “You Just Have to Laugh” and Igudesman’s show, “The Music Critic” which they still regularly tour, as well as the former James Bond, Sir Roger Moore, with whom the duo has collaborated on several occasions for UNICEF.
As composers, IGUDESMAN & JOO have collectively released over 50 publications with Universal Edition and their works are played by musicians and children all over the world. They’ve received commissions from various orchestras, including the Pittsburgh Symphony, Düsseldorf Symphony, Vienna Symphony, Tonhalle-Orchestra Zürich, New York Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra.
Individually, Aleksey Igudesman has worked with Academy®Award-winning Hollywood composer, Hans Zimmer, and Hyung-ki Joo was commissioned by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Billy Joel, to arrange and record Joel’s solo piano compositions on a CD which reached # 1 on the Billboard charts.
Hans Zimmer and Billy Joel not only admire the pair as serious musicians, but they also endorse them as entrepreneurs through “Music Traveler” – a platform and mobile app, conceived by Igudesman, which enables musicians to book rehearsal rooms and concert venues around the world. The duo also founded the production company “Only Hands Small Productions” to create original content for film and television. In addition, many shows of IGUDESMAN & JOO can be watched on the streaming platform, “Music Traveler TV”, a platform that enables musicians to stream their concerts and performances to a wider audience.
In addition to their own productions, IGUDESMAN & JOO appear in numerous films, including the mockumentary, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Classical Music, Pianomania, Breaking Beethoven, and the award-winning Noseland.
Along with touring their duo shows- A Little Nightmare Music, AND NOW MOZART, Play it Again, And Now Beethoven- as well as shows with symphony orchestras such as- BIG Nightmare Music, UpBeat, Happy Concert, Beethoven’s Nightmare and others- IGUDESMAN & JOO also enjoy leading workshops and master classes while on the road. These encounters aim to leave students confident and inspired to break new grounds for the next generation’s own musical journeys.
In autumn 2019, IGUDESMAN & JOO ventured into completely new territory with the publication of their first book. Save the World was released on 5.10.2019 by the Austrian publisher, edition-a, and describes how the world can be saved with creativity and humour. Shortly thereafter, the book-inspired show Saving the World, was premiered at the Dortmund Konzerthaus and followed by a tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
In 2020, the duo launched two shows celebrating their hero, Beethoven – And Now Beethoven and Beethoven’s Nightmare, the latter with orchestra, a work commissioned by Oslo Philharmonic, WDR, NDR Radiophilharmonie and Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra. Both shows are scheduled to be continually performed for seasons to come. Highlights from both programs were featured in the documentary, Breaking Beethoven, directed by Igudesman, and co-produced by German and Austrian television networks, WDR and ORF respectively, and the duo’s own media production company, Only Hands Small Productions.
Since 2021, IGUDESMAN & JOO are curators of a new concert series- STARs ‘n’ FREEKs- at the Tonhalle Düsseldorf. In these unique concerts, amazing talented musicians from all over the world, with special and often unusual skills, showcase their music, which in many cases, is only showcased on the streets or on the internet.
The recent cultural standstills did not hinder IGUDESMAN & JOO from continuing to create new shows and content, and currently in production are two programs, And Now Rachmaninov, as a duo show, and Rachmaninov Reloaded with orchestra to celebrate the big birthday of the genius Rachmaninov in 2023, and a new show teaming up with two queens of musical virtuosity, multi-percussionist and composer Lucy Landymore, and pianist and vocalist, Yu Horiuchi, for the show, Mambo Jambo.
One can also tune into their livestream broadcast, How to Fail & Succeed, with new episodes every month on their YouTube Channel, Facebook and Music Traveler TV.