Ipswich: Eight hands are better than two say New Wolsey bound Stringfever
EIGHT hands plus one cello equals bags of fun; get ready to come down with a serious case of Stringfever.
“It’s one of those very difficult things to describe so I’m not surprised you’ve turned it round to me,” laughs Ralph Broadbent, who makes up the quartet with brothers Giles and Neal and cousin Graham. “It’s so different from anything that’s out there. It’s about time I came up with a soundbite.”
Coming from a family of musicians it was always likely the Broadbent boys were going to follow their fathers into the music profession.
Giles and Ralph studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Graham at the Royal College. Giles went on to lead the orchestras for West End shows Sunset Boulevard, Phantom of the Opera and My Fair Lady. Neal was due to study at the Guildhall School of Music but was kidnapped by his elder brothers to be the cellist - and occasional beatboxer - in the group.
Born out of being asked to put together a music act for the corporate after dinner circuit about eight years ago, they’ve become a worldwide phenomenon.
Performing on five and six string electric violins, viola and cello, the quartet have made sure their entertaining take on existing music appeals to both the man in the street and musicians.
“Every tune we play will be recognisable; having said that, in the last couple of years we’ve slipped in one or two original pieces as well. We do a lot of our arrangements of well-known classical music, quite a lot of film music, some comedy numbers.”
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The latter includes a piece called The History of Music in 5 Minutes which does pretty much what it says on the tin.
“We start off with the early classical stuff. With our unusual electric instruments you can put them through effects pedals, make them sound like guitars; my younger brother beatboxes, so we end up doing all the rock songs... that gets people’s curiosity up.”
Another popular piece sees them playing Ravel’s Bolero all on one cello at the same time at different angles.
“It’s a very unusual number; I guess it’s sort of [become] a calling card,” says Ralph. “We had to think of something funny, entertaining and which would grab the audience’s attention very quickly. I remember as a kid [seeing] on a TV programme eight men playing on a double bass. That seemed to be something that was funny.”
They often think of stuff travelling in their tour van. Others happen by accident when they’re just in a room messing about. Resident comedian Graham is known for trying something on stage sometimes without warning the rest of them.
“Sometimes the spontaneous ideas are better than what you can sit in a room for two days trying to come up with,” laughs Ralph.
Stringfever come to Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre on Thursday, November 8.