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Iggy Jang presents ‘Tango Extravaganza’

Violinist Iggy Jang, concertmaster of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, will present “Tango Extravaganza,” a new and dramatic afternoon performance of tango music and dance with an ensemble of renowned performers, at 4 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 4) at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea.

Jang’s production features Tony Award-winning dancers Guillermo Merlo and Fernanda Ghi, with critically acclaimed bandoneonist Javier Sánchez, and director/pianist Alfredo Minetti. Hawaii’s own guitarist Ian O’Sullivan and bassist Hayden Joyce will also be joining the celebration of music and dance.

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Jang is of Korean ancestry but grew up in Paris in the 1980s, and remembers the French being fascinated with tango at the time, with the music constantly being aired on the radio. “It’s the infectious rhythms and the haunting melodies that really stay with you the rest of your life,” he said.

“In the late ’80s or early ’90s, I got hold of a CD by Astor Piazzolla, called ‘Zero Hour,’” Jang said, referring to the composer whose classically-influenced tango compositions revitalized the genre in the 1960s.

“That sent kind of an electrical jolt into me. Wherever I was from then on, whether Paris, Vienna … I always wanted to find the time to reproduce something like that at a live concert.”

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His passion for tango goes beyond nostalgia. As a violinist, he also loves the elegant lines and interesting percussive techniques that highlight tango music.

Jang sees parallels between tango and classical music. Though tango is considered native to Argentina and Uruguay, it was heavily influenced by classically trained violinists from Italy who emigrated to Argentina at the turn of the 19th century. Even now, “a lot of the classical musicians in Argentina move to tango and back,” Jang said.