Monday, April 23, 2018
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Barrage brings high-energy fiddling to PHCC

For three days back in the mid-1990s, a roomful of classically trained violinists brainstormed for the perfect name for their new high-energy, choreographed violin musical extravaganza that would soon hit the road and change the public perception of the violin and its usual tuxedo and gown wearing players.

The word didn't seem to exist, said Tony Moore, one of the show's creators.

Shortly after, Dean Marshall, another creator, who was killing some time in an airport bookstore, picked up a dictionary and opened it haphazardly. The word "barrage" leaped off the page. One of the definitions Marshall read, Moore recalled as it was relayed to him, was "a repetition of high energy over a short period of time."

"We said, 'Oh man, we're going with that,' " Moore said.

When Barrage hits Pasco-Hernando Community College's Performing Arts Center stage on March 10, that's exactly what the audience can expect to see.

The show has been described by its creators as a "high-octane fiddle fest" and as "an evening of performing jigs on rocket fuel" by the Los Angeles Daily News.

"That's why it's called Barrage," Moore said. "It hits you over the head and it hits you again and again and again."

Think of what "Stomp" and "Riverdance" did for percussion and Irish folk dancing, respectively, only now it's ramped up violins — and better, creators naturally say.

Based in Calgary, Canada, the cast of Barrage consists of five violin players, a drummer, a bassist and a guitar player who give audience members something tantalizing not only for the ears, but for the eyes as well while the musicians combine pulsating world beats and strong voices with electric carefully choreographed movements. Bagpipes, a tin whistle and a mandolin are even thrown into the mix during the two-hour performance that Moore describes as a musical without the book. And Barrage's current "Soundtrack of the World" show doesn't come with fancy costumes. The flash is in the music and dancing.

Each of the talented young cast members, whose average age is in the mid-20s, is classically trained and hand selected after intense auditions.

Cast members travel about 40 weeks of the year and since the beginning Barrage has performed more than 2,500 shows in 27 countries and released seven albums, four DVDs and had five television specials.

The music in the live show is about a 60-40 mix of Barrage originals and symphonically arranged covers from classical to Celtic jigs, Latin to bluegrass, creating a one-of-a-kind tireless performance that blends styles, cultures, layered vocals and the numerous talents of the powerful cast. It also features solo and trio performances, such as the Dueling Fiddlers.

"It's a high-energy mix of music, song and dance and it's centered around the ageless instrument, the violin," Moore said. "If you don't like it, wait two minutes. We'll have something different."

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