Piano duo to perform sold-out concert to close Bienen’s Skyline Piano Artist Series


Source: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Piano duo Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe. The pair will perform the closing concert of Bienen’s third Skyline Piano Artist Series this Saturday.

Eunice Lee, Reporter


The only thing better than one world-famous pianist, is two world-famous pianists — who also happen to be best friends.

Enter Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, a piano duo that aims to make classical music relevant and popular again. Since joining forces in 2002, they have released Billboard chart-topping albums and Emmy-nominated music videos that have millions of views on YouTube.

Now, they are slated to perform the closing concert of the third annual Skyline Piano Artist Series, a lineup of piano concerts hosted by the Bienen School of Music. Jerry Tietz, Bienen’s director of concert management, described the duo as a “revolutionary collaboration that defies the stigma of classical music being a stuffy enterprise.”

Anderson and Roe will perform their sold-out concert in Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall on Saturday — the day before Mother’s Day. Coincidentally, the pair’s latest album “Mother” was just released in April and is a “musical tribute to motherhood and creation,” Anderson said.

Source: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe.

Roe, a Chicago native, said she looks forward to returning to Northwestern for the concert. In high school, Roe performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, accompanied by the Chicago Philharmonic. She described the upcoming concert as “a homecoming.”

“There’s something really special and joyful about getting to share our music with an audience and a community that means so much to me,” she said. “We’re honored to be closing out the Skyline Series.”

Anderson said he and Roe met in 2000 during their freshman year at The Juilliard School, and bonded over their love of piano and desire to popularize classical music. He said they quickly developed an “incredible, energizing friendship” and formed their partnership two years later.

Roe described the duo’s dynamic as a “totally organic, yin-and-yang alchemy.” She added that their collaboration has led to new discoveries, not only in classical music, but in themselves as solo artists.

“It’s one of those partnerships that you always dream of,” Roe said. “It’s a chemistry that you can’t fabricate.”

Bienen freshman Kyoko Kohno said she has been a fan of the duo for a couple of years and was excited to hear they are coming to NU.

Kohno said the duo’s ability to apply their classical virtuosity and technique to create popular arrangements is “exciting and attractive.” Their international success can be partly attributed to their self-produced music videos, she said, which bear resemblance to those one might see on MTV.

Tietz, the director of concert management at Bienen, said their performances are appealing to a wide audience — even to those who don’t have much experience with classical music.

“People who might never eye a ticket to even one of the best pianists in the world may come across one of these videos and think, ‘Maybe going to a piano concert would be cool,’” Tietz said. “We need first-timers to take that chance — to buy that first ticket — and come see a concert. And in order for that to happen, we need artists like Anderson and Roe.”

When Anderson and Roe first started playing together, they said the “duo genre” had yet to gain traction. Roe said they were able to capitalize on this and make the genre their own, freeing themselves to set a new tone and aesthetic rather than be stuck in tradition.

Their program for the Skyline Series will feature an unconventional mix of classical and pop music. Anderson said this allows them to blend the two genres and make familiar melodies feel “brand new and fresh.” The duo will close the concert with their own arrangement of The Beatles’ “Let it Be.”

“Never before in history has humanity had so much access to music of the past and present, and of different styles and cultures,” Roe said. “It’s our desire, but also our responsibility to reflect this diversity and richness that exists in the world of music. So why limit ourselves to one style or one period, or even genre?”

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