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Alex DePue (left) and Miguel De Hoyos, who perform together as DePue De Hoyos, will take the Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. (Submitted Photo)

Violin/guitar duo to perform at Memorial Auditorium

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WORTHINGTON — A remarkably talented and versatile musical duo will deliver a not-to-be-missed show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Worthington’s Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center (MAPAC).

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DePue De Hoyos, the musical collaboration of violinist/fiddler and Ohio native Alex DePue and guitarist Miguel De Hoyos, will perform a varied program ranging from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to “Stairway to Heaven” — and all in a manner that will astonish and amaze local audiences.

“They have pretty incredible credentials,” assured Margaret Hurlbut Vosburgh, MAPAC manager. “You just have to take the time to see them, because you’re not likely to see anything like it again.”

In a Thursday interview, DePue agreed with that assertion.

“We create a sound unlike any other musical ensemble I’ve come across,” DePue said. “People can expect to hear a lot of material they already know, but they have never heard it presented in the way we perform it.

“Imagine ‘Hotel California,’ ‘Black Magic Woman’ or ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ with a traditional Mexican groove and Latin-sounding accompaniment and a twisted, rocked-out violin on top of it.”

While the arrangements DePue De Hoyos present may be unique, it’s clear the duo is grounded in solid technique and musical training.

“My father was a professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio — he was a professor of music composition and theory — so I not only went to school there [DePue holds a degree in music performance], I was also raised in Bowling Green,” DePue said.

DePue began studying the violin at age 5, and despite his classical roots and surroundings, became intrigued with fiddling and improvisational music along the way.

He has won numerous awards, both as a classical violinist and as a fiddler, including being the Michigan State Fiddling champion for four consecutive years (1994-98) and “Fiddle King” at the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens, Ala., in 2006.

“I absolutely did have to work very hard to incorporate the improvisational set of skills into my playing,” DePue said. “You can’t suddenly improvise successfully by magic, but the No. 1 thing as a musician is you have to be brave, because improvisation is 90 percent attitude.

“You must do it with conviction and authority, or you can’t present it to your listeners as something valid.”

DePue has unabashedly followed his own musical idols, including fiddler Mark O’Connor and guitarist Steve Vai. DePue toured with Vai from 2007-10, and from 2000-06 he toured with Capitol Recording artist Chris Cagle, with whom he still performs.

And after 10 years of being urged by his cousin to meet De Hoyos, DePue and the Mexican guitarist finally connected and immediately clicked.

“About two measures in [to our first jam session], we realized there was some serious magic there, and now we have played together professionally for the past six years,” explained DePue, who is now based in San Diego, Calif., but also has a home in Mexico about one hour from De Hoyos.

“Many of the arrangements we play are still intact from the way we did them our first time through, so our process is very organic,” he added.

Even while he masterminds new arrangements with De Hoyos, prepares for solo engagements and keeps up his own considerable musical skills (DePue also mastered the viola, mandolin, guitar, bass, drums and piano and plays his primary instrument roughly three hours daily), DePue puts his musical training to work as a teacher.

He currently instructs 10 advanced violin students, mostly via lessons on Skype.

“Skype is terrific in that I can see and hear the students and look at the score with them over the Internet,” DePue said. “I’m getting all kinds of wonderful results from them, and I select my students very carefully.”

One of those hand-picked students is Olivia Skaja, 15, of Deer River. A homeschooled high school freshman, she first met DePue when he was giving a master class in Princeton, and then again when he was a featured guest with the Itasca Symphony Orchestra, with which she plays.

“It’s really fun to work with him as a teacher,” confirmed Skaja, who will travel to Worthington on Saturday with her family to join DePue on stage for a fiery rendition of Vittorio Monti’s “Csardas.” “At first I was a little intimidated because of his abilities, but it’s really cool I actually have him as a teacher now.

“Skyping for lessons has worked pretty well for me at my level,” she continued. “I mostly work on classical music with him, but he’s also helped me with a little fiddling and other styles.

“This will be my first trip to southwest Minnesota, and it will be great to see my teacher in person for a day.”

DePue is similarly pleased to introduce his protégé to a larger audience.

“Olivia is a wonderful, wonderful young student,” attested DePue. “She is going to be really something and could end up with a solo career.”

DePue’s own musical road has led him into the world of fiddling, rock and Latin rhythms, but similar training launched his three brothers into more traditionally classical music careers; one is the concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony, another is in the first violin section of the Philadelphia Orchestra and his oldest sibling is the concertmaster of the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra.

Does DePue’s music professor father approve of his musical ventures?

“Dad had a split personality regarding the subject,” DePue said, laughing. “We weren’t allowed to bring rock and roll into the house — it was not acceptable — so we had to disguise it in the form of Christian rock to soften the blow a little bit.

“Eventually it morphed into his wide acceptance of different musical forms.”

Vosburgh is certain local audiences will unhesitatingly approve of DePue’s creative musical career in collaboration with De Hoyos.

“We are so fortunate to have musicians of this caliber coming to Memorial Auditorium,” said Vosburgh. “They are absolutely phenomenal. Don’t just take my word for it; check them out on YouTube.”

Reserved seating tickets for the 7:30 p.m. Saturday show of DePue De Hoyos at Worthington’s Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., are available at the box office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday or at the door beginning one hour prior to show time on Saturday.

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