Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser made the crowd roar and scream...
2CELLOS - Stjepan Hauser and Luka Šuljić, two Croatian cellists
2CELLOS - Mombasa (Live at Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
The New York Times Classical Crossover for the Win
BUDAPEST — Fans rushed the stage as the first chords of “You Shook Me All Night Long” rang out in the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena last October. Young women in tight miniskirts and boots whipped their hair at the musicians while denim-clad young men, their fists pumping the air, shouted out the lyrics to the 1980 hit by AC/DC.
As the sellout crowd of 6,000 exulted, the performers kicked it up a notch. Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser made the crowd roar and scream by playing instrumental covers of songs by U2, Michael Jackson and Nirvana.
Katja Kinnunen, who came from Finland to see the show, said she was not disappointed, having seen videos of the group on YouTube, where their arrangement of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” has had over 59 million views.
“If you play with passion, that’s my thing,” she said. “They blew my mind.”
Pretty typical commentary for a rock concert. But this was not a tribute show by an ’80s imitation band. The musicians are two classically trained Croatian cellists who perform as 2Cellos, and their genre is instrumental classical crossover — a small but surging subset of classical and pop music.
“We want to show the possibilities of cello playing,” Mr. Sulic said before the show. “To break the boundaries between different genres of music.”
Mr. Hauser laughed and put it more bluntly: “I wanted to have screaming girls in the audience, which we get now for sure.”
That two classical musicians could get a Hungarian crowd out and screaming on a wet autumn night is a testament not only to 2Cellos — who count Elton John, Quincy Jones and members of Iron Maiden as their fans — but also to the growing popularity of instrumental classical crossover. Thanks to social media and easily accessible music download sites like Spotify and Apple Music, musicians like the Piano Guys from the United States, Apocalyptica of Finland, the Australian/British violin quartet Bond, and Maksim Mrvica, a Croatian pianist, have found fans across the globe interested in listening to instruments usually reserved for symphony halls.
“We try to make a revolution, not only with cello playing but also classical music,” said Mr. Sulic, 28, who holds a master’s degree from the Royal Academy of Music, in London. “Presenting it to a younger generation, in a different light, showing how cool it can be.”
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