Piano duo brings keys to life in South Okanagan

Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann with the gold-leaf Fazioli grand piano they are touring the South Okanagan with this weekend. - Photo courtesy of Scott Adolph
Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann with the gold-leaf Fazioli grand piano they are touring the South Okanagan with this weekend.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Scott Adolph

Their love for the piano brought them together, and two decades later Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann are still inspiring audiences.

The married couple, who  perform as the Bergmann Duo are bringing their dynamic and energetic performance to the Cleland Theatre this Saturday as part of the Penticton Community Concert Series and play at the Oliver Alliance Church the day prior as part of the South Okanagan Concert Society. This is part of a 13-community tour the couple are doing across B.C.

“The playing is the fun part, it’s the travel and wondering how the weather is going to be that is the hard part,” said Elizabeth.

Especially when your travelling companion is a gold-leaf Fazioli grand piano. This hand-crafted piano is made in Sacile, Italy which produces only 100-120 of the instruments a year.

“The Fazioli is one of the top instruments I have played on absolutely. We were just talking about this while we have been touring and it is holding its tuning all the way, it’s quite unbelievable,” said Elizabeth.

The piano, along with a Grotrian, is moved to each venue with as much leeway time as possible to allow the instruments to acclimatize. Both are supplied by Showcase Pianos of Vancouver.

“It is important that they get into the next venue as soon as possible because the temperature fluctuation is really what puts the pianos out of tune. The instruments are made of wood so they are living, moving creatures. We come in as close to the concert as possible to tweak the tuning, warm up, then boom it’s showtime,” said Elizabeth.

While in the South Okanagan the Bergmann Duo will delve into a varied repertoire which includes Mozart, Brahms, Bernstein, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea and Astor Piazzolla.

“We have taken a page out of 20th century musical history” stated impresario George Zukerman of White Rock, BC.

“In the 50s and 60s the concert landmark was full of duo-piano teams on tour with their own pianos in tow. Now the Bergmanns have re-established an old tradition that will be as successful today as it was in the past century.”

The couple have performed in recital and with orchestras across North American and Europe. They have several recordings to their credit as well as being frequent featured artists on CBC. Marcel is an accomplished composer himself and arranged much of the music.

“The whole second half to the show, with the exception of one piece, was all original arrangements  by Marcel. With all the textures and all the stuff that is going on they all work so well with two pianos. Because he is a composer it gives us so much versatility,” said Elizabeth.

The Bergmann duo take the stage at the Cleland Theatre on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 ($5 for students) and available at the Shatford Centre or at the door on concert night.

The concert on Friday takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Oliver Alliance Church and is $20, students 17 and under are free.

A master class at the same venue the morning following the concert from 8:30 a.m. to noon for senior piano students. For more information contact 250-495-6487.

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