BWW Review: BLACK VIOLIN: CLASSICAL BOOM TOUR at Veterans Auditorium--O My!
Last night your intrepid reviewer and his equally intrepid spouse made the trek over to Veterans Auditorium in Providence for the aptly named BLACK VIOLIN: CLASSICAL BOOM TOUR.
This is how First Works, who brought them to Providence, describes the evening, "a genre-shattering concert from the celebrated hip-hop and classical strings fusion duo."
What an unbelievably entertaining evening; what a talented duo, Wil B and Kev Marcus. Wil B is the stage name of Wilner Baptiste. Baptiste says he intended to study the saxophone instead of the viola, but by mistake was put into classes for the latter. Though initially reluctant, Baptiste chose to adapt to changes and accept the fate he was given. In a 2012 interview, Baptiste related: "I stuck with the viola and it opened a lot of doors for me."
He told the crowd, which included many young musicians: "You see this violin. It got me a full college scholarship; It got me to Iraq to entertain the troops, and it got me to Obama's inauguration. So, practice, practice, practice." He says his goal as a performer is for people to attend the concerts, then return home "to be better people." I'm trying. Kev Marcus is the stage name of Kevin Sylvester.
Of his early years, Sylvester shared in a 2012 interview: "I didn't want to be the violinist in my neighborhood." According to Sylvester, in the fifth grade: "I got into a little trouble...and my mom said she needed me to get into something, so she took me to Saturday morning violin class." He stated that his goal for his audience was to think about "...what they would do differently in their lives. We want to make sure they are not just playing the violin or playing other instruments, but we also want to make sure they are thinking about what they can do differently in their lives. So whether they want to be scientists or lawyers or hockey stars or anything - whatever they want to do - just make sure they go about doing it different than anybody else."
He also shared how much he loved his violin, Tiffany-"She's beautiful, and she even pays the bills." They want to explode stereotypes and they do. I do not want to make this sound like a lecture: backed up by drummer Nat Stokes, DY SPS, and a well-orchestrated light show, Black Violin rocked the banged-out Vet. FirstWorks is a local arts organization, which grew from the ashes of the late, lamented Providence FirstNight. It is an organization dedicated to bringing world-class art to the City of Providence and underserved students in Rhode Island. In my humble opinion, they have combined to hit a homerun here.
So this show is gone, but FirstWorks is bringing Complexions: Contemporary Ballet-From Bach to Bowie to PPAC April 17. Tickets are available at the Vets/PPAC Box office, 401 421 ARTS and at First-Works.org. This was the third FirstWorks show I have seen, and this was even better than last year's Gershwin evening and Pilobolus. Kathleen Fletcher, the Artistic Director, is responsible for booking these performers, and, as near as I can tell, her next miss will be her first.