Artist Series Concerts opens its 2019 Venice Lunch & Listen series with the Melodica Men, the young Juilliard and Peabody Conservatory-trained duo who shot to Internet fame around the world when the video of their “Rite of Spring” for melodica (half keyboard, half harmonica), went viral with over 1.5 million views in one day. As their fame has grown, so too has their melodica repertoire, which now includes critically acclaimed arrangements of such iconic pieces as the “William Tell Overture,” “Carmen Fantasy,” “The Nutcracker Suite,” “West Side Story” and many more.
They will perform on Feb. 19, at the Plantation Golf & Country Club, 500 Rockley Blvd., Venice.
Joe Buono and Tristan Clarke, aka the Melodica Men, have been dazzling audiences worldwide since September 2016, when a video of their improbably virtuoso melodica performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” went viral, with over 1.5 million views in just one day. What began as two music students playing toy instruments just for fun (the melodica is a cross between a keyboard and a harmonica, and is actually deceptively complex to play), the duo has become an international sensation with a repertoire that’s now expanded to include Mozart, Bizet, Bernstein, Tchaikovsky, Piazzolla, Gershwin, Queen, Star Wars and more.
The Melodica Men have performed as soloists with the Jacksonville and Atlanta Symphonies and have been featured on ABC’s “The Gong Show” and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Last summer they were featured artists at the 2018 Accordion Music Week in Lithuania, where they also appeared on national television. Their videos, which often pair surprisingly sophisticated arrangements of music classics with wonderfully nutty antics and props, have been viewed over 30 million times on social media platforms around the world. Notable followers of the duo include the London Symphony Orchestra, Norman Lebrecht, Classic FM and even the daughter of Leonard Bernstein.
Besides touring as the Melodica Men, Buono and Clarke are also very accomplished brass players with “legit” music careers. Buono holds two masters degrees from the Peabody Institute, has won numerous competitions as a bass trombonist and currently teaches and composes. Clarke is a graduate of Juilliard and plays principal trumpet with the Jacksonville Symphony. Behind the scenes, the Melodica Men are also pioneering a new way of learning music as a language through the melodica. Pilot programs in elementary schools began in January 2018, and a full online curriculum is in the works.
“What these guys do with this seemingly humble toy instrument is nothing short of astounding,” says Joseph Holt, artistic director of Artist Series Concerts. “They’ve combined their mastery of it with their talent, passion and magnetic personalities to engage a whole new audience of listeners and learners. And if you think their videos are great, wait until you see them live!”
The concert begins at 11 a.m. followed by luncheon at 12:15 p.m. Tickets are $48 and are available online at www.ArtistSeriesConcerts.org or by calling 941-306-1202, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Artist Series Concerts’ 2019 Venice series continues with My Three Sons Vocal Quartet, featuring Stephen Ditchfield and sons David, Michael and Nate (March 7, 6 p.m., with dinner, at the Plantation Golf and Country Club); Stan Kenton All Star Big Band, a seventeen-piece orchestra comprised of some of Florida’s best jazz musicians, performing hits by the legendary composer and band leader (March 17, 3:00 p.m., Venice Performing Arts Center); and “Piano Pizzazz Meets Fiddle Finesse” featuring pianist Brian Gurl and Sarasota Orchestra violinist Carlann Evans (March 26, 11 a.m., with luncheon, at the Plantation Golf and Country Club).