You might think a group calling itself the Queen’s Cartoonists would be British – and you’d be wrong.
The six members of the ensemble are actually from Queens, New York, which is just the first taste of the plays on words, puns and general hilarity the QC bring to the concert hall.
Cartoons, however – classic to contemporary – are definitely part of the group’s goal to get people of all kinds to enjoy jazz and classical music.
The Queen’s Cartoonists are the fourth event in the 2019-20 Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts Series. They will play in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center at Bethel College Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
The Queen’s Cartoonists’ repertoire comprises music from classic cartoons and contemporary animation, in performances synchronized to video projections of the original films.
The band leads the audience through “a world of virtuosic musicianship, multi-instrumental mayhem and comedy.”
Tying their diverse performances together are comedic anecdotes about the cartoons, artists and composers.
According to the QC website, “The band is on a musical mission of equal parts performance, preservation and education.
“Expect the unexpected from repertoire that includes the Golden Age of animation, cult cartoon classics, modern animation and elements of a musical circus.”
Pianist and piano teacher Joel Pierson founded the Queen’s Cartoonists in 2015 and now serves as the creative director. He has performed on all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica), written music for the 2013 film The Internship and authored two books, You Suck at Piano and 20 Piano Pieces for People with Emotional Problems.
Drummer Rossen Nedelchev is a native of Sofia, Bulgaria. He is the band leader of Alter View and plays drums for singer Jana Mashonee and for the Qualia, in addition to the QC.
Drew Pitcher is a multi-instrumentalist (saxophones, clarinets, flute and harmonica) and an alumnus of the University of North Texas and the famous One O’Clock Lab Band, and has performed with artists such as the Coasters, the Drifters, the Platters and Wayne Newton.
Trumpeter Greg Hammontree is a professional freelance trumpet player who has a reputation as “a fearless cartoon trumpet master” who will “take on any challenge, no matter how fast, ridiculous or potentially dangerous.”
Mark Phillips was born and raised in Australia and moved to New York in 2011. After starting out studying the classical saxophone, he is now a Selmer Artist on woodwinds and plays clarinet for the QC.
Anchoring the QC on bass is Larry Cook, a native of Columbus, Ohio, who has spent his musical life “steeping in the tea bags of jazz, bluegrass and soul music.”
Since their inception in 2015, the Queen’s Cartoonists have brought their unique sound to performing arts centers in more than 20 states, have opened for the New York Philharmonic and have been featured in numerous major publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and Mashable., and on NPR.
Single tickets for the Queen’s Cartoonists range from $27 to $18 (Bethel and Hesston students get in free) and are for sale at Bethel College’s Thresher Shop, open weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m., the Hesston College bookstore, open weekdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m., or through the HBPA website, www.hesstonbethel.org.
The final event in the 2019-20 season is the Celtic band Goitse, March 9 at Hesston Mennonite Church.
The series started in 1982 as Hesston Performing Arts, then expanded in 1998 when Hesston College joined forces with Bethel College for Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts, to present five performances by world-renowned or regionally acclaimed artists each school year.