Childhood friends and musicians reunite in concert
Even though the Honolulu Symphony season is pau for now, there's one more opportunity to get your fill of some fine classical music. Not only that, you'll also witness a special reunion between two friends who haven't seen each other in more than 30 years.
Violinist and concertmaster Iggy Jang and harpist Sebastien Lipman share a childhood spent in the ski resort town of Grenoble, France, in the 1970s. The two even slipped easily into conversational French now and then as they and their musical compatriots gathered for a photo shoot at fashion designer Anne Namba's shop in Kakaako on Monday.
'Iggy & Friends'
Place: Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Time: 4 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $15; $10 students, seniors and academy members
Namba is helping dress the musicians in her Asian-chic style in preparation for a Sunday concert at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
"People usually think of formal attire for classical musicians like being penguins, with tux and tailcoat," Jang said. "Wearing Anne's clothing shows that we can still look stylish on stage without being stuffy. I think her style meshes well with the music we'll be playing." (The two first met a couple years ago at a fashion show of hers that featured his playing in a wedding-gown segment.)
"I wanted to help make the music a little more approachable in what they will wear," Namba said. "Something different, but not putting them in poofy MC Hammer pants," she added with a hearty laugh.
SUNDAY'S program will include the Saint-Saëns Harp and Violin Duo, Handel's Harp Concerto, Kodaly's String Quartet No. 2 and Debussy's "Danses Sacrée et Profane." Joining Jang and Lipman will be fellow harpist (and wife) Sayo Lipman; violinist Greg Wrenn; and symphony principals violist Mark Butin, cellist Mark Votapek and bassist Kirby Nunez.
"I wanted to make it not just violin and harp, but feature some of the more exciting pieces from the chamber music repertoire," Jang said.
Jang and Lipman's families lived in the same apartment building in Grenoble. "In fact, my mom used to babysit Sebastien sometimes," Jang said. Both took up their respective instruments at early ages, Jang at 5 and Lipman at 7.
Jang's family left Grenoble when he was 10, and that was the last he saw of Lipman, although both would further their studies at Indiana University in Bloomington, but not at the same time.
With the worldwide community of classical musicians being relatively small, the two were aware of their growing reputations.
"I learned Sebastien had become this brilliant harpist featured with the Berlin Philharmonic in the '90s. And last summer he sent an e-mail to the symphony that was forwarded to me, saying that we should plan to do a reunion concert in the near future." (Lipman and his then-new bride have moved to Brisbane, Australia, since then.)
Even though the two friends have busy performance schedules, they'll work to make sure it won't be another 30 years before they play together again.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Iggy Jang, center, and his friends, clockwise from left: violinist Greg Wrenn, harpists Sayo and Sebastien Lipman, violist Mark Butin and cellist Mark Votapek.