DOWNERS GROVE – If playing violin and dancing at the same time isn’t task enough, try performing in front of a Chinese audience.
“Here in the U.S., you’re expected to sit still and be quiet and listen and put your phone away,” said Downers Grove 18-year-old Aura Evans, a member of “The Allegro!!! String Performance Ensemble.”
“In China, they’ll take out their cellphone and take pictures and talk to their friends.”
Evans said the Allegro players realized the crowd wasn’t distracted; they were engaging with the show in a modern way.
“It made it a lot more fun,” she said. “[The crowd was] texting their friends, ‘Oh hey, I’m at this really cool concert.’”
Aura and two of her four siblings, Teddy, 14, and Max, 16, traveled with the Allegro performance group, based at the Western Springs School of Talent Education, to China in June, playing in 10 cities. They joined three other Allegro groups from the United States for the tour.
The shows boasts a variety of genres played by the group on violin, all while the members perform choreographed dances.
Aura and all four of her siblings were taught to play violin in the Suzuki method at the Western Springs school. Her older brother, Ames, 20, previously played in Allegro, which is for middle and high school students.
The youngest in the Evans clan, Mike, 10, likely will follow in the sibling tradition and audition for the group when he is of age.
During the tour, the mobile phone engagement from the crowd noticeably grew their audience, she said.
One crowd member took a YouTube video of the group performing “Chop Stickin,” which features a choreographed taekwondo fight between Teddy and Max in the middle of the song – the two brothers have black belts in the martial art.
The video went viral, Aura said, and by the time Allegro played its final show in Shanghai, it was to a crowd of about 1,700.
“Everybody loved [the taekwondo fight],” Teddy said. “They were screaming and clapping for us. At first, they don’t realize what’s going on; they’re like, ‘Why are they setting their violins down?’ It turns into something really cool.”
He said the crowds in China were enthused to approach the performers after the show and pose for pictures.
“They’d come up and give you a hug and a peace sign,” he said.
When they weren’t on stage, the siblings had a chance to sightsee in the country.
Teddy especially was taken by the architecture. His brother, Max, enjoyed the food.
“You get introduced to so many different food styles,” Max said. “I tried snail, eel, octopus … I tried mussels for the first time in my life. You don’t really know what everything is; you just eat it.”