Classical musicians and boxers to perform in harmony • Brooklyn Paper

Classical musicians and boxers to perform in harmony

Hitting the right notes: Dan Barrett, center, and members of the International Street Cannibals perform inside the ring at Gleason’s Gym.
Slah Amami

Get ready for another round!

The sweet science and sweet sounds will collide when a group of classical musicians performs alongside boxing bouts at Dumbo’s famed Gleason’s Gym on April 25. Classical ensemble the International Street Cannibals first staged its duet of sparring and symphony in 2005 and has repeated the show several times since. It has been two years since the last performance, and the band’s founder said he is excited to get back in the ring for another rematch.

“After a difficult period of administrative and personnel shifts, I’ve been once again free to focus on this project, which is so very close to my heart, and which has always appeared to me so beneficial to the community,” said International Street Cannibals creator and cellist Dan Barrett.

In “Strike!,” the eight-piece ensemble will perform works by Bach, Mozart, and Barrett’s original compositions in one ring, while teenage boxers perform in another.

“Yes, they’re performers,” Barrett said. “I think of athletics as an art.”

The boxers will compete in three bouts. The band will perform between the fights, as well as one-minute musical interludes during round-breaks for the first two fights, and a full accompaniment for the third and final match. The ensemble will also kick off the show with a swing adaptation of “Die Gedanken sind Frei,” a German folk tune calling for freedom of thought, Barrett said.

Barrett said that the most gratifying aspect of “Strike!” has been working with the young boxers. He uses the language and strategy of boxing to school them in the connection between sport and music.

“We’ll go in with, say, a movement of a Mozart flute quartet,” he said. “And I’ll sit down and say, ‘You’ll hear that he’s repeating this, and you hear that this is a little different? He’s taking something and cutting it in half.’ We’re discussing how a composer creates his game plan.”

The classical musicians and budding pugilists actually have a lot in common, Barrett said. Both arts require incredibly high levels of discipline, dedication, and hard work.

“There’s constant drilling that’s required before one addresses either sports or music,” the cellist said. “The drilling aspect is very important — repetition, the perfection of forms.”

And because so many fighters have sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears while training at Gleason’s over the past 78 years, the gym itself is as much a part of the show as the boxers or musicians, Barrett said.

“Gleason’s is really intrinsic to the whole thing, because so many champions have trained there,” he said.

“Strike!” at Gleason’s Gym [77 Front St. between Main and Washington streets in Dumbo, (718) 979–2872, www.streetcannibals.com]. April 25 at 8 pm, $20 ($15 students and seniors, $10 for those under 17).

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