Black Violin, made up of Will B. and Kev Marcus, has been creating a special blend of classical and hip-hop music for almost two decades. Natives of Fort Lauderdale and graduates of Dillard High School, they met in orchestra class and have been making music together ever since. On the heels of a highly successful European tour, they return home this week for a special engagement with Culture Shock Miami at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center this Friday.
“The point of our show is not just about coming and being entertained; we try to educate and inspire. It’s also about breaking stereotypes and doing things that no one has ever done,” violinist Marcus says. During their performances, which he describes as “really loud, hip-hop/rock kind of concerts,” the two share a stage with a drummer and a DJ, combining Bach and Beethoven with a contemporary hip-hop flair in what has become their signature sound.
“We want you to hear things that you have really never heard or never thought of before — you know, we pluck the violins like guitars quite a bit and change it,” he explains. “My violin is an electric violin, so it looks really wild. You’ve never seen a violin that looks like that. We look at how we can blend two worlds that don’t seem like they should match — how do you play violin on a beat like "Panda" [the Billboard hit by Kanye West protégé Desiigner] and make it classic?”
Conversely, Black Violin is also interested in taking the classics and making them contemporary.
“That conflict with that contrast is something that we try to exploit and highlight, and then when you do it in a good way, people normally react as if they've never heard or seen anything like that before,” Marcus says. “That's what we’re going for creatively both onstage and offstage: give a really palatable musical experience that you didn’t necessarily think was possible.”
Their latest album, Stereotypes, released in September 2015 on Universal Music Classics, allows the pair to also further explore the sonic dichotomy between the classical and contemporary worlds they live in as black men in America.
As Marcus explains about their fearless blending of music and artistic styles, “Everything doesn't have to be the way that everyone before you has done it. That’s the reason why people pay to see us — it isn't because we’re the best violinists in the world, but it’s because we manage to approach it in a way that most violinists have not.
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“If we can just get people to continue to think about things in a different perspective, then our show is a success,” he adds. “Hopefully, you’ll like the music and all that stuff too and buy album and come back and see us again. But you know, on a true social level and on a true doing-good level, it’d be great to get people and kids to [start thinking] because they saw a violin played in a way that they’ve never seen, by people they never seen play it.”
— Rebekah Lanae Lengel, artburstmiami.com
Presented by Culture Shock Miami. 8 p.m., Friday, July 8, at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay. Tickets cost $20 to $45 and $10 for youth tickets for 12 years old and younger through smdcac.org or 786-573-5300.