Bach to Beastie Boys and beyond

PORT HARDY—The first four shows in the North Island Concert Society’s 2011-12 season were a case study in diversity

PORT HARDY—The first four shows in the North Island Concert Society’s 2011-12 season were a case study in diversity, covering Acadian folk, Cuban son, soulful gospel and upbeat country roots-rock.

This weekend the society wraps up the season with a show that might well be titled “all of the above.”

And then some.

Vancouver-based Infinitus takes the Civic Centre stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, featuring twin brothers Alex and Anthony Cheung on cello and viola and John “Adidam” Littlejohn on violin.

But this is not your grandmother’s string trio.

At the drop of chord change these virtuosos can shift from Beethoven to Beastie Boys, from Schubert to show tunes, from Mozart to Motown, or from Strauss to Santana.

In their last visit to the North Island, a school outreach trip a year ago, Infinitus wowed their student audiences with their improvisational chops and ability to quickly jump into requests from the audience, including tunes like the theme songs from popular shows and movies like Spongebob Squarepants, The Simpsons and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Make no mistake, these are classically trained musicians. They hold degrees from the University of Michigan and from Peabody Conservatory, and won the grand prize at the 2003 Friends of the Chamber music competition. They will certainly treat Saturday’s audience to a variety of the classics.

But the trio’s music has been identified as “modern classical”, and the group lives up to the label by producing sounds rarely heard from a string ensemble.

A typical Infinitus concert is a mix of styles, ranging from “traditional” treatment of time-honoured songs from classical composers to original compositions that include elements of jazz, Latin and even hip-hop.

In the latter numbers, Infinitus refuse to restrict themselves to traditional bow-work. The musicians pluck their instruments like guitars, rap them as percussion instruments, and toss in vocalizations to create a beatbox sound. Infinitus injects a healthy dose of humour while always respecting the music.

The group has performed more than 400 outreach shows, at schools, First Nations reserves and social service organizations, and all three members are also music instructors.

Audiences are promised an interactive experience, so bring your own suggestions, and expect a few surprises as well.

Tickets are $25 and are available in advance at The Hobby Nook, Port Hardy Museum and Cafe Guido in Port Hardy, at The Flower Shoppe in Port McNeill, and in Port Alice by calling Gail Neely at 250-284-3927.

More info is available at niconcert.ca.