Black Violin Brings “Classical Boom” to Rochester

Black Violin are probably some of the coolest dudes you’ve never heard of.

Wil B. and Kev Marcus make up the duo and together they’ve transformed the world of viola and violin music. By adding elements of pop, hip-hop and rock, they’ve taken classical music and made it almost approachable, but definitely hip.

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The two have performed all over the nation and on stage with charting  musical artists like Kanye West. They’ve also collaborated with Wu-Tang Clan and Alicia Keys. On Thursday, they performed at the Nazareth College Arts Center to a sold out venue.

“I hope you weren’t expecting a quiet night,” joked Marcus. The music was loud, the bass bumping and several older members of the audience could be seen plugging their ears or, within minutes of the show’s start, leaving altogether. Marcus said they’d performed in Philadelphia the night before and, to date, had already done more than 100 shows this year. 

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They performed several songs, some original and some covers, including of Imagine Dragons’ “Believe” and “One Dance” by Drake. Wil B also plays keyboard and sings. He added vocals to many of their performances and even singing a mash of Marvin Gate’s “Let’s Get it On” and “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheehan to his viola, which he’s named Tiffany.

The two are originally from Florida and their real names are: Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste. They attended high school together but later went to different colleges. Neither even wanted to play stringed instruments at first.

“I didn’t want to be the violinist in my neighborhood,” stated Marcus in a 2012 interview “I got into a little trouble…and my mom said she needed me to get into something, so she took me to Saturday morning violin class.”

However one of the core concepts of Black Violin is challenging stereotypes and encouraging young people to think differently about their future and what they want in life.

Students from School of the Arts and the musical program Strings for Success were in attendance. Students could be seen dancing throughout the whole show.

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“Wil and Kev place heavy emphasis on educational outreach, and have performed for more than 100,000 students in North America and Europe in the past 12 months,” states the duo’s biography.

Their next performances can be found at the duo’s website.

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