February 9, 1995 in Nation/World

Plucky Cellists Are A Natural Duet Twin Brothers Sound Off About Youth, Music And Who’s The Boss

By The Spokesman-Review
 

After a day of gigs, Gregory Hershberger, 12, claims he’s the band leader.

Geoffrey scoffs at the notion his twin brother runs their show. “He’s three minutes older than me so he thinks he’s my boss.”

The Hershbergers’ cello duet looks like an offbeat Doublemint commercial but sounds like one of Spokane’s best young acts.

Strip away the novelty of duplicate choirboys strumming huge old string instruments, and there is only the rich drone of talented cellists.

One plucks while the other strums, gently blending until the music stops - and they clash like brothers.

“Every once in a while, they’ll hit each other with the bows,” says their mother, Chana Hershberger. Does it ever go to fists? “Yes. They whale on each other.”

The Hershberger twins share a goal: They want to be the best dueling cellists in the world.

They’re still six months away from their teens, so anything’s possible, right? They mastered a Vivaldi concerto in less than two weeks. Even some of their head-banger pals liked that rowdy number.

Are they gifted cellists? They both nod.

They also are almost certain they are the only twin cello act in the world. Anything is possible.

The Hershberger brothers were born in California on Aug. 12, 1982, to two musicians, Doug and Chana Hershberger. Before the twins turned 2, they had starred for a season on the television show “Falcon Crest” as interchangeable infants.

“Don’t write that, please,” says Geoffrey, fearing grief from his Sacajawea Middle School classmates.

The two boys can’t pick each other out in early family photographs. They enjoy that. As Gregory says, “We love being twins.”

The twins accentuate their mirror looks by performing in matching black wing tips, tuxedo shirts, bow ties and Swiss Army wrist watches.

Most everything they do is identical.

They’re both brown belts in karate, and almost perfectly equal in snow skiing, tennis and school. They both love Monet. They both own rats, Ed and Floyd. They share the same career plan if the cello act fails - aeronautical, structural or electrical engineering.

Their hero is world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Their differences surface when they play the cello.

Geoffrey is more intense. He glowers and rocks his head like a rock bassist. Gregory looks more relaxed and personable, as if at a formal wedding.

Their different styles are equally effective, they agree, after bickering about it.

“He’s more violent. I have better intonation,” Gregory says.

“Don’t write that,” Geoffrey says. He sits first chair in the Spokane Youth Symphony Junior Orchestra so he’s better, he says.

It’s irrelevant, Gregory says about being second chair. His brother was picked simply because he showed more emotion.

“Just write we’re equal,” Geoffrey says.

The twins discovered the cello two years ago while watching a friend of their mother perform. The difficult instrument came easy. “We realized we had more talent than we thought we had,” Gregory explains.

Since then, they’ve performed at Spokane schools, restaurants, churches, talent shows, weddings and many Saturday nights at Starbucks, E2525 29th.

Chana Hershberger says the unusual thing about her twins is their drive to go public so soon. “They saw the sign at Starbucks, `Musicians Wanted,’ and they wanted to perform.”

Mozart performed in coffee shops, too, Geoffrey points out, sipping a tall, vanilla-mocha, decaf latte while his twin brother finishes a Bach solo at Starbucks.

Do they get nervous?

“No,” says Gregory.

“We’ve never been nervous,” adds Geoffrey.

Still bright in their minds is a dueling cello act they saw at the Spokane Opera House last October. After the show they met the cellists. “One of them studied with (Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav) Rostropovich,” says Gregory.

The unusual performance inspired the twins to try to to reach David Ott, the dueling cellists’ composer, by e-mail.

“We wanted to see if he was interested in writing something for us,” Gregory said. “We got the wrong David Ott.”

Their very first media interview drags on too long, interfering with their favorite show, “Mission: Impossible.”

The twins close the discussion by guessing how their classmates will view their press debut.

Gregory sums it up. “Some will say `I saw your name in the newspaper: You suck.’ Others will, say, `Wow, that’s so cool.”’


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