That’s me, Edward Violinhands
There’s no sufficient description for the seismic thrill that catches you unawares when Hahn-Bin starts playing the violin. So please watch the videos before reading, though they still aren’t a patch on the live version. First comes the music.
Sitting in the Soho Theatre last night, we couldn’t help but feel smug that Hahn-Bin’s first magazine cover was for i-D. A child prodigy and modern day Mozart, he began playing at five years old and by fourteen was studying at Juilliard under the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman. Hahn-Bin is a rare, rare talent. This isn’t some hip hop spit or pop sensation, this is world class, history defining talent and Soho Theatre felt too small to house it.
On the tables around the downstairs stage was a kind of obituary written in newspaper type with Saturday’s headline reading ‘The Death of Hahn-Bin’ and Sunday’s reading ‘The Birth of Amadeus Leopold’. Entering the stage wearing a black cockerel on his head and draped in something like Gareth Pugh, Hahn-Bin looked like the same avant-garde goth we remember from his pictures by Daniele + Iango in i-D’s Royalty Issue. But as the performance went on, and we’ll get to the score in a minute, he started removing clothes, revealing an almost unrecognisable person beneath with bleached blonde boy band hair, baby blue contact lenses and a vest. Sinking to his knees at several points during the performance, and looking up as if the world was ending, well his world was, Hahn-Bin announced his new identity: “As you can see Hahn-Bin is dead. My name is Amadeus Leopold. The only way I could move on to my future was by murdering my past. There are some of you here tonight who may have loved Hahn-Bin but I didn’t. I couldn’t, because for some of us, the wounds of our past just won’t heal.” The de-robing and performance element felt like theatre, but it was in fact very real. What we were watching was a genuine expression of somebody choosing life over death, forced to change in order to let go of his painful past.
His repertoire included ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, a homage to his first love Judy Garland, Saint-Saëns’ ‘Danse Macabre’, and scores from Schindler’s List and Young Frankenstein, and every one was electric. It is incredible that Amadeus Leopold is only 24 years old and that this is just the beginning of his classical renaissance. “This is the sound of my heart”, he said, holding his violin above his head, an offering of himself to the world, “can you hear me?”
Text: Sarah Raphael
Photography: Daniele + Iango