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The Flying Karamazov Brothers join the Richmond Symphony to perform music you can see.

It's a Toss Up


The Flying Karamazov Brothers with the Richmond Symphony
Landmark Theater
8 p.m.
Monday, April 19
788-4717 It may not call itself "The Greatest Show on Earth" but it comes darn close. Just when you thought the Richmond Symphony had run its range of programs (this season alone having done classics to casual, opera to Randy Newman), in explodes a show certain to surprise. On Monday, April 19, The Flying Karamazov Brothers will storm the stage of the Landmark Theater for one outrageous performance of music, comedy and spectacular juggling stunts. The symphony will open the show with three Russian pieces to set the stage for the second half, where The Karamazov Brothers will juggle, joke and display their unique art form of "visual music" with the Richmond Symphony accompanying. Though they are not actually brothers and are not from anywhere east of the Atlantic (their name is inspired by a Dostoevsky novel), The Brothers Karamazov have traveled around the world juggling everything from raw chickens to layer cake, banging out Beethoven on their helmet-protected heads, and awakening audiences to the joys of live theater and symphonic music. There is no telling what to expect from each show, except pure comedy and entertainment. As the Brothers cavort about the stage, sometimes wearing tuxedos, sometimes wearing tutus, one thing is certain: The audience acts as an integral part of the show. During one segment of the performance, the Brothers challenge the audience to present any "unjuggleable" objects, so long as they weigh no more than 10 pounds and are no larger than a breadbox. With such objects as a pig stomach and a baby octopus having been previously offered, the Brothers clearly are unfazed by the bizarre. With more than 200 shows a year, the Brothers rarely slow down. The slapstick humor and audience participation reflect vaudeville theater, which highlighted these same elements. Brother Rakitin (Michael Preston) expanded on this notion. "To me, [vaudeville] is great. Many of the original comedian actors came out of it. W.C. Fields was one of the greatest jugglers of all time, and many people don't know that because he went into film. There's just something about vaudeville's humor combined with feeling directly with an audience. Getting back to this realm is what will hopefully keep theater alive." Although the Brothers are best known for their juggling, the musical quality of their show matches their famous talent. The Richmond Symphony will accompany the Brothers on everything from Grieg to Bach as they demonstrate this visual music. "We've decided that music only being listened to is not enough," Preston explains. "The juggling is our attempt to turn things visual. Not only do you see us playing music as we're juggling, but then you see patterns as we pass back and forth." As noted by Karamazov Brother Howard Ray Patterson (Ivan), the relationship between time and rhythm in juggling is similar to the relationship these elements share in music. "Rhythm is the underpinning of music," Preston adds. "It is the underpinning of juggling, too. Playing with rhythms is also a way to play with time. We can slow down or speed up time visually." Gerardo Edelstein, the symphony's music advisor and assistant conductor, will lead the group for the first half of the program with a trio of pieces by Russian composers: Festive Overture by Shostakovich, Ruslan & Lyudmilla Overture by Glinka, and Russian Easter Overture by Rimsky-Korsakov. Edelstein chose these pieces not only to help reflect the Brothers' "associated" ancestry, but also because of their light and upbeat feel. He hopes they will complement the lightheartedness of the Brothers' performance and also appeal to younger audience members, who are expected to fill many of the seats. "Flight of the Bumblebee," which is featured in the Russian Easter Overture, is a piece that both young and old will recognize. With such an untraditional program, Edelstein expects to attract many untraditional symphony patrons. Preston has witnessed first-hand new audiences being drawn to their show. "I think it has been really successful and fun to see people who don't normally come to the symphony," he says. "You don't just sit back on your chair and listen to our show; you need to be a part of it. There's a lot of humor, clowning and skill — a lot of things [an audience] can really hook into." Ultimately, the Brothers want to present a fun and memorable show. "Our goal is to awaken the audience to the incredibly alive, interesting, and most of all fun experience of theater," Preston says. "We want to do anything that can entertain or enlighten. We want everyone to go out having had an experience that they couldn't have had anywhere

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