'East meets west' musical duo improvs with Windsor Symphony Orchestra

'Our duo shows are all improvised, so we just work from scratch.'

The 'Kamancello' pair are from Toronto

The Kamancello duo play with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra this weekend. (Alice H Photography/Facebook)

A cello, a kamancheh and a full orchestra. 

It's not the start of a joke, it's what Windsor Symphony Orchestra maestro Robert Franz is calling "amazing."

Canadian 'Duo Kamancello' join the WSO Saturday for a one-of-a-kind 'east meets west' concert showcasing the classic cello and a kamancheh.

"This instrument is about 1,000 years old," said Shahriyar Jamshidi about his instrument, the kamancheh. "It's used in Central Asia, parts of Turkey and in Iran."

Jamshidi has never worked with an orchestra or a conductor before. 

"I had a bit of difficulty in figuring out how I can fit with the orchestra," said Jamshidi. The instrument's size and bow technique compare to the cello, but that's where the similarities stop.

Watch the duo play for Tony Doucette on the CBC's Windsor Morning:

Luckily, cello player Raphael Weinroth-Browne is familiar with the instrument. 

"I was fortunate to be exposed to it from a young age. My dad listened to a lot of Persian music and we listened to it on campus radio. When I found out about Shahriyar I wanted to get in touch and try playing together," said Weinroth-Browne.

The pair believe they're the only duo with this configuration — and their shows are improvised.

"We just work from scratch," said Weinroth-Browne. "What's different for us is that we have elements that are scripted and we're alternating between the completely spontaneous and scripted."

Franz "trolled" the duo online and invited them to come to Windsor to play with the WSO.

"I love this concept of east meets west and I'm always looking for ways to bring things together in a different way," said Franz.

For Weinroth-Browne, he said it was important as an artist to try new things.

"The main idea was to capture all the elements of what we do in this context in a cohesive format," said Weinroth-Browne.

At some points during the concert, the regular orchestra plays a background and the duo improvise on top of that bed of music.

With files from Windsor Morning