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Va-Va-Bond

It was good old classic gone bad, as the bond, once tagged as "the Spice Girls of classical music," cajoled, seduced and got the stoic crowd to clap their hands in time with the techno beat, as they ran their fingers through their tightly-strung instruments, their hair flying in the air with every pull of the string, filling the cavernous theater with the lush, almost primeval sounds of two violins, a viola and a cello blending harmoniously.

Of course, they would not be called crossover artists for nothing as they took the audience for a musical spin with "Lullaby," a reinterpretation of Pachelbel's Canon, "Senorita," a fiery, salsa rendition of Carmen; "Dream Star," a new age version of "The Waltz of the Flowers" from the Nutcracker Suite; "Midnight Garden," a sultry take on Tchaikovsky's theme from Swan Lake; "Vivo," a danceable version of Vivaldi with Eos Chater on second violin doing a little vocals; and yes, even a jazzed-up version "Fly, Robin, Fly," an old '80s disco tune. They also played the carrier from the Classified album, "Explosive," which could well have been straight out of a James Bond movie soundtrack, evoking the cloak and dagger mystery of the famous spy movie.

The four talented ladies - Haylie Ecker (first violin), Eos Chater (2nd violin), Tania Davis (viola) and Gay-Yee Westerhoff (cello) - then took their electronic string intruments aside as they proceeded to play an acoustic version of "Besa Me Mucho" and a piece playful enough to make the audience do the jig in their seats, if that at all is possible.

Well, what can we say -- there's something so intriguing about four sexy chicks dressed in stilleto heels, frou frou ballerina skirts and baby tees, doing a gypsy dance with abandon as they caress their violins like a long-lost lovers, that makes one want to just get up and dance. They were having the time of their lives, so why not join in the fun?

While some call their tune a hybrid form of classical music, new age to some, the foursome once said in an interview that they prefer to have their music, which is tinged with hip hop, African beats, Latin grooves and jazz, described as "pop, but played on classical instruments," and the group, eclectic.

And while purists scoff at how classical musicians such as the bond, who have brought down the centuries-old classics to the level of Britney Spears or Destiny's Child, with the flashy music videos, stage theatrics and risque image, younger generations who woke up to the sound of heavy metal, grunge, house, tribal house and trance are slowly straining their ears to the novel and seductive call of "fusion music," as exemplified by the bond, as well as other successful crossover artists like violinists Vanessa Mae and Lara St. John, who created quite a stir when she wore nothing but her violin on the cover of her debut album; pianist Maksim; and yes, even Yoyo-Ma with his cello renditions of Brazilian music.

In a local interview before their Oct. 20 concert at the PICC, Tania Davis remarked, "People are blurring genres more than they used to and it's happening more and more." Adding that people just don't realize they're hearing classical, just as eight-year-olds who watch Walt Disney movies never realize until years later that most of the instrumental music used as background music in these cartoons are actually classical pieces.

Lately, with the recent visit of Maksim, who dazzled Manilans twice with his deft manouveres on the ivory keys, and the bond, we find ourselves dusting off our copy of One Hundred Symphonic Favorites and visiting that cozy nook in record stores to check out new releases of these artists. Their fans are young and almost all of them are into piano, taking violin lessons, or are influenced by their parents into appreciating the music of the masters. And despite all the hype, the outrageous outfits and the seductive stance, parents seem to not mind at all when their budding musicians dance, scream like crazy when they hear the music of the bond.

It seems to me deplorable then that after the concert, a dozen teenage fans, most likely music students, who brought copies of the group's new album Classified, were not even given a chance to get their CDs and VCDs autographed. But, what the hey, they're sure to come back soon, judging from that night's success.

After storming the musical charts with their debut album, Born, in 2001, followed by Shine, which went gold in over six diferent countries and a Live At The Royal Albert Hall DVD, which sold 250,000 units, the London-based group is still out to shock, titillate and bring us to new heights of musical enjoyment.

Classified, the reason for the group's whirlwind promotional tour, sees the girls going back to their classical roots as most of the tracks feature a heavy classical influence blended effortlessly with techno, African, hiphop, gypsy, house and even Bollywood-inspired tracks like "Scorchio" and "I'll Fly Away." The group is accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. A third of the album was written by the group, some in collaboration with Tonci Huljic, the same guy who wrote "Croatian Rhapsody" for Maksim. Classified the CD album also featues a bonus VCD and is now available in record stores.

 


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