It’s not typical that classical music concerts move people to get up and dance, but should the mood strike at the Black Violin concert at the Turlock Community Theatre, it would please performers Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus.
“At our shows you should expect the unexpected,” said Baptiste. “The show has a lot of high-energy and we encourage people to get up and move if they feel it.”
Baptiste, who plays viola, and Marcus on violin have been performing together as Black Violin for more than a dozen years, but their partnership never would have formed had a high school guidance counselor not put them in the wrong class. The two were supposed to be in band class at Dillard High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but were instead put into orchestra. It proved to be a fateful move because the two really took to their respective instruments.
“We developed a connection, especially with our shared interest in hip-hop,” Baptiste said.
After college, the two men reconvened to produce beats for South Florida rappers, eventually becoming popular in local clubs where they covered hip-hop songs on violin. They later went on to win Showtime at the Apollo in 2005, and eventually sold out headline performances at venues across the country as well as perform with artists including Alicia Keys, Wu Tang Clan, 2 Chainz and others.
“We were backing up these artists, but we noticed we were getting a lot of attention ourselves,” Baptiste said.
Baptiste and Marcus are joined on stage by DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes. The band uses their unique blend of classical and hip-hop music, often described as “classical boom," to overcome stereotypes and encourage people of all ages, races and economic backgrounds to join together to break down cultural barriers. They perform more than 200 shows a year and have a community outreach — the TurnAround Arts program — that has seen them connect with more than 100,000 students throughout the year, mostly at low-income and Title 1 schools.
Black Violin will be playing at the Turlock Community Theatre at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $35, $45 and $65 and are available at turlocktheatre.org.