128 W Howard St. Bellefonte, PA 16823
By Serge Bielanko
In a few days, the two local violinists who make up Revamped will be swinging through Bellefonte with a show that will more than likely blow your mind out through your eyeballs if you go.
Just sayin'. So you might want to consider that okay?
That said, if you are wise enough to still go, all that time leading up to 'the big event' (your mind being blown!) will probably be spent by you crying like a Beatlemania tween and fist pumping the air to the rigid subtle heat-up of Billie Jean or the grand escalation of Stairway to Heaven. You see, this Revamped duo of Sally and Mark Minnich (yep, they're married) are not your everyday run-of-the old-mill twin fiddlers sawing away at yet another dusty version of Pastoral Spring in G#m or The Jig of the Newborn Baby Lambs or anything like that.
With Revamped, who will be appearing for free at 2:30pm on Sunday, February 16th at Trinity United Methodist Church, 128 West Howard St, as part of the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association's Sunday Afternoon Chamber Music Series, you sort of have to expect the unexpected. Self-described as the 'stride pianists of the string world', these two renown violinists are just as comfortable referencing Harlem Jazz or reimagining Hotel California as they adept are demonstrating their mastery of the masters like Vivaldi or Beethoven.
That their shows are known as both eclectic and inspiring is likely due to the fact that the Minnichs seem, well, like they were sort of destined to be together.
Even going back to the day that they met, when they were both students at Bowling Green State.
"We were at All-State Orchestra in Ohio, and an exhibit was letting students play on a Stradivari violin worth $2.5 million," Sally recounts. "I played it carefully and tenderly, appreciating its fine tone, before returning it to its caretakers. Later I heard it being played very well and passionately with reckless abandon, and I was simultaneously impressed and aghast."
Guess who that was?
"After we began dating," she says," ee realized that that was Mark that I heard."
Ahem. I mean...of course! How could you NOT fall for a guy who chops away at a zillion dollar museum piece like a 1976 Friday Night Charlie Daniels, am I right?!
Well, the rest is musical history, as it goes, and Centre County is all the better because of it. These days the Revamped couple not only record their music and perform live as much as possible, but they're also both heavily involved in teaching music to kids.
"We both love teaching!," exclaims Sally. "I teach through the State College Suzuki Program at The Music Academy, as well as direct that program. And Mark is the Grier School's full-time strings and orchestra teacher. We've been in the area long enough to have students going into college for music. Developing relationships with the students and their families and watching them grow, as well as the constant creative problem-solving that goes along with teaching makes it very rewarding."
That probably says a lot more about their music than anything I can write. When two people fall in love, get married, practice their craft incessantly, and yet still devote much of their lives to helping young people learn to play, well, that kind of says it all.
Still, if for some bizarre reason I haven't yet sold you on the fact that you really ought to be heading out to this free Revamped concert coming you way, let me seal the deal right now.
At some point in this show, when the spirit moves them and the precise notes collide in the musical air above their heads, the Minnichs are going to look at each other as they play their beautiful music together for you. You'll notice the look, think it's cute, maybe kind of romantic.
But then the Minnichs will pull a stunt, a trick, a thing that will make your head pop like a can of hot Coke..
And in that joyous moment, in that rarified second when both spectacular music and mind-blowing entertainment slam into one another right before your very eyes (and ears), you will be witnessing something very very cool, indeed.
Here's a few more questions I threw at Revamped in anticipation of you losing your figurative head.
Each of you is a wildly accomplished musician, yet playing together, as a duo, seems to be your favorite way of performing. Why do you think making music with each other works so well for the two of you?
Mark: Our relationship has always been entwined with our work and our passions, especially music; we started playing together when we started dating, and our performance seems to be the most natural outcome of our shared love of music and each other.
Your duo performances are quite known for being much more edgy than a lot of your peers, most notably because you two perform tricks on the violin. How did that come about?
Mark: Well, we're both experimenters- Sally wanted to have us switch violins during a performance, and that developed into playing two people on one instrument to smooth out transitions, which became the stunts you may have seen (such as Mark taking two bows while Sally fingers two instruments at once). It always got lots of attention, which I think we both secretly love.
Tell me three songs/pieces of music that have your heart forever and why. (One sentence each).
Mark and Sally: the Csardas, because it's the first arrangement we made together.
Mark: "O Magnum Mysterium", just for sheer textural beauty.
Sally: Beethoven's 5th, because it was one of my late father's favorite symphonies.
What can folks expect at your Bellefonte performance on Feb 16th?
Sally: We have loads of repertoire, but we tend to pick it at the last minute- you'll just have to come and find out! It may be anything from Michael Jackson to Renaissance motets to Irish jigs, and we'll use many crazy techniques and technology to sound like more than two violins. We also promised a couple of our fans that there would be at least one stunt on this concert.
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