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TwoSet Violin Mesmerizes Audience at Yale with Classical Comedy and Violin Mastery

by Madonna

Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall was graced with the electrifying presence of TwoSet Violin, a classical comedy violin duo renowned for their viral YouTube videos. The event, which drew a packed audience, allowed attendees to enjoy a captivating performance and engage in a lively Q&A session with the talented duo.

Comprising violinists Eddy Chen and Brett Yang, TwoSet Violin boasts an impressive following, with 4.12 million subscribers and a staggering 1.40 billion views on YouTube. Their YouTube channel has solidified its place as one of the most-watched classical music-related channels on the platform. This visit to Yale marked the starting point of their 2023 world tour, with the duo jetting in from Australia just hours before the event.

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“They’re really the face of the younger classical musician community, and over the past ten years, they’ve revolutionized the image of classical music for a lot of students and younger people,” noted Atticus Margulis-Ohnuma ’25, president of the Yale Symphony Orchestra.

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TwoSet Violin first graced Yale with their presence in the fall of 2018, courtesy of an invitation from Mary Lui, Head of Timothy Dwight College, who was struck by their humorous YouTube videos. Lui, a former orchestral musician, had initially expected a modest turnout and offered her own home, which had a capacity of 50 people, as the venue. However, her expectations were shattered when hundreds of students crammed into her house.

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Lui, realizing the duo’s fame, decided to host their return event in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall. Free tickets sold out rapidly, underlining the pair’s popularity among students.

Chen and Yang received a thunderous welcome as they took the stage on Thursday night. They treated the audience to an arrangement for two violins of Handel-Halvorsen’s famous Passacaglia in G minor, a virtuosic piece typically performed with a violin and a cello.

Lui joined them for a brief interview before opening the floor to a Q&A session with attendees. The duo discussed performance anxiety, their experiences in classical music, and engaged in friendly banter with students about their favorite instruments.

Estelle Balsirow ’26, an oboist in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, expressed her appreciation for TwoSet Violin’s ability to balance classical music with humor and charm. “Talking to them made me realize that they are just as funny and sweet in person as they are on the screen,” she said.

Lui, who is committed to supporting Yale’s classical music community, has a history of inviting acclaimed musicians to the university. Last year, she hosted Grammy-winning violinist Hilary Hahn as a Timothy Dwight Chubb Fellow.

Lui emphasized the importance of finding joy in playing music, especially in an environment as competitive as classical music. She stressed that music is not limited to those who can achieve a high level of proficiency but is for everyone to enjoy.

Both Chen and Yang have backgrounds in conservatory training and previously worked as professional classical violinists in the Sydney Symphony and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, respectively. In 2016, they left their positions to pursue live classical-comedy performances, embarking on the first-ever crowdfunded classical world tour. They have collaborated with some of the biggest names in classical music, including Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, James Ehnes, and Janine Jansen.

Their YouTube videos break down stereotypes about classical music, making it accessible and enjoyable for all, regardless of musical background or experience.

Lui believes that the accessibility the duo provides is what sets them apart and makes them ideal guests for Yale. By infusing humor into their music, Chen and Yang address some of the power dynamics that often plague the classical music world. Their story, according to Lui, is incredibly important for the Yale music community, offering a reminder that the joy of music can persist even after the intense dedication and hard work associated with classical training.

TwoSet Violin’s world tour includes sold-out shows at prestigious venues across the United States, such as the David Geffen Hall in New York and Symphony Hall in Boston. Their unique blend of classical mastery and comedy continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

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