Taiwan-Australian Twoset Violin has had their first concert in Denmark

Review of live concert

Twoset Violin

World Tour 2024

DR Koncertsalen, Copenhagen

Sunday, March the 17., 2024

In a way, Twoset Violin has done something new to classical music. The other way around, they reuse an old idea, they develop the idea and make it grow through social medias. Now, they have reached millions of young fans. The couple of friends probably split the world of classical music because of their progressive art of performing.

Surely, W. A. Mozart would have loved it. Victor Borge probably would have interacted and at the concert in Copenhagen the audience gladly took part in the show by laughing, answering and giving convincing applauses as Brett Yang (32) and Eddy Chen (31) played on the stage which they shared with Sophie Druml who played the piano.
Not was it a tiny scene, however the personalities Brett & Eddy are taking much space in the duo Twoset Violin.

It didn’t seem to be so important which pieces of music was being played. There was lack of program printed to the audience and one had to listen very carefully to pick up the information given by the musicians.

Klassisk bureau apologizes for the quality of the photo.
However, Eddy Chen, to the left, and Brett Yang here appear at stage together with Sophie, who plays the piano. The hola hoops are somehow visible around both violinists. 

Foto: Klassisk bureau

The concert appeared to be relaxed, ad hoc and ruled by improvisation even though it all of course was very well prepared. “Did you practice today?”, Eddy asked as one of his first questions to the audience. From that moment Twoset Violin which according to their website has more than 7,500,000 followers also had full attention from the audience in DR Koncertsalen.

Eddy Chen and Brett Yang are born in Taiwan but grew up and got educated in Australia. Practicing is an often commented topic in the videos of Twoset Violin. Practically spoken, it has become a central part of their brand. By presenting this topic in the beginning of the concert, the audience had a shared point of reference since the audience already is familiar with the funny, crazy and creative videos from Brett and Eddy.  Check them out, if you haven’t done it yet on Youtube, TikTok or Instagram. There is a huge quantity of jokes, funny situations, ideas and a successful staging of their personalities. In a natural way.

Often there is an ironical take on the often introvert and very serious culture of classical music. Also, they are joking about how boring – very boring – practicing is. Or they find some other videos to comment on. Or they evaluate and giggle at their own stage performance from videos because of some mistakes in their performing that hardly anyone else is able to notice.  Ect., ect. Through playing, fantasy and self-irony they tear down some of the strong elitist seriousness in classical music. That is what is appreciated by their audience and fans. In Copenhagen the audience was aged 8-80 years old. It seemed that a not small number of them were foreigners since one could hear much English-speaking around.

Even though Twoset Violin has done this show many times before the two friends appeared very present at the stage. As if the show so much is, what they really are as private persons. Therefore, it was very relaxing which is positive.

They launch the show by communicating with the audience. “Guess a sound” is the first game and Brett and Eddy play the sound of an ambulance, a racing car and a bird. Little by little, they present some good classical works combined with some improvisation here and there. Then, suddenly the concert is being interrupted. On the wide screen behind them the character Ling Ling appears in his Darth Vader-look and with his cold mechanical voice. Ling Ling is not satisfied with Brett and Eddy’s musical level and therefore he is going to send them through a test. Ling Ling is a character created by Twoset Violin and he is well known from the videos. Furthermore, Ling Ling is the parody of the ultimate evil and boring violin teacher who himself practices 40 hours a day and expects nearly the impossible from his student. Also, he is the incarnation of what the expectations are to a prodigy, Eddy has explained in a video.  

Now, the show goes on with a number of spectacular disciplines commanded by Ling Ling. We hear Twoset Violin doing Beethoven, Paganini and Händel; the students are also asked to play blindfolded with the educational argument that they need to learn to cooperate. We also get to see them playing correctly and very powerfully while they are moving the hola hoop. But Ling Ling is evil and wants to split up the trio.

Together with Sophie, Brett and Eddy are also doing a piece in which the three of them change instruments while playing the piece to the end. Another trick is to play two persons on one violin: One is holding the violin, while the other is moving the bow on the strings. All this mixed with jokes and hilarious comments. Brett and Eddy are teasing and helping each other and communicating with the audience. It worked out well in Copenhagen.

When it came to a point, Ling Ling was too much. He got fired by Twoset Violin and instead another character appeared on the screen. From that point on Twoset Violin starts warming up for the final part of the show, and the virtuosity and the playing get a more free spirited expression.

At the final we got to listen to a technically very challenging piece in which the two violins played in a very close and nearly angry duo. The show sort of reaches its highest point with this finale and that tells us that Eddy and Brett really can play. That they must have been practicing. Perhaps they are not in the world top 5 of soloists but less will do. The intensity is alive and the presence is intact there; it is impossible not get to like the two friends who seem younger than they appear to be. Their sense of humor in its total purity and innocence is childish. Perhaps it is a matter of cultural difference when it comes to humor – not that I am an expert in Asian humor, at all. However, Twoset Violin just had the attention from the audience all the way. It was impossible not to laugh, getting in the mood and for a while forgetting the graveness of the world.

Although Eddy and Brett’s brand is created by reels on Instagram and TikTok – platforms usually moving in a fast flow including high speed, many pictures ect. – there is a certain peace and slow down-setting in the live show. And in so far as their own videos. Actually, their live show lacked of concentration and speed. What didn’t help this fact was that Brett and Eddy entered the stage 20 minutes after the beginning of the show. Six minutes delayed the pianist entered the stage telling us that Brett just woke up from his nap. Then, she started playing until Brett and Eddy finally got there. For sure that took the hook of the energy and the expectations from the audience. At least for me. Even if Twoset Violin successfully took the stage both as stand ups and musicians, the delay from the beginning did an impact on the show as a whole.

Now, the question is how Twoset Violin fits in in the world of classical music. Is their humor acceptable for an audience that regard classical music as intellectual? Is this kind of show compatible with playing serious, classical music? Is the well established world of classical music too selfconfidential to embrace this initiative and is it in fact a total different audience that admires Twoset Violin? Would it in the long run damage classical music if this kind of show and stage culture got more common?
Probably, Twoset Violin splits the world of classical music. That in itself is both interesting and refreshing. Perhaps even needed.    

Note: The full setlist from the concert is to be found at www.setlist.fm. 

Published 29 March 2024

Rachel Einarsson