Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun 'step in' Saturday at Millennium Stage

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard
For a performer, being asked to step in at the last minute when a program change is needed can be a daunting prospect. Or it can be an unexpected windfall.

"Obviously you could think there isn't time to prepare; to get people out, to spread the word," said guitarist Jay Pun, of the rising musical duo, Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun, who are unexpectedly performing at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage this Saturday evening. "But at the same time, this is an honor for us. Our manager has wanted to get us into the [Kennedy Center's] concert roster for at least 5 years and when they called, we were really excited."

Lasko and Pun are a twosome who encourage their audiences to put aside pre-conceived notions of an acoustic violin and guitar style and to enjoy a delicious blend of many styles -- from jazz to folk, world beat to rock, and everything in between. They are often as surprised at what comes from their sound as the audience always is.

Morwenna Lasko & Jay Pun
Where: Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street, NW
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Info: Free, 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600,

Both musicians are graduates of Berklee College of Music and began playing together in 2004. Classically trained, they found mutual joy in pushing the boundaries of traditional "acoustic" music -- Jay on his guitar, Morwenna on the violin.

"When I was growing up, the music scene in Charlottesville was going all the time," Pun remembered. "There was so much variety; from bluegrass, rock and reggae. Morwenna didn't know what she wanted to do after college. I told her this was a great place and we came down. "

They found work teaching and doing gigs around the Charlottesville area. They also began writing, both sharing in the musical and lyrical composition. The release of their second CD "Chioggia Beat" showcases their ability to reinvent the limits of their acoustic instruments with a worldly mix of tunes with unexpected musical tangents.

"Our repertoire is all original music," Pun pointed out. "We touch upon different styles; the West African influence and the jazz. To bulk it up, we [do] some bluegrass style of stomping."

Anxious for their work to get out into the mainstream, both are extremely happy to play music that has no boundaries. And to make a living doing it is their professional bonus.

"When people are taking time out to [come to the concert,] you've got to give them the best of you!" Pun said.

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Marie Gullard

Special to The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner