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This Piano Festival Has It All, Even Ballet

Aug. 7 — 9

Keisuke Nakagoshi and Eva-Maria Zimmermann of ZOFO will be featuredWhat is a duo piano festival? Does it feature one piano/four hands, or two pianos/two pianists, or a pianist with two pianos?

The last option is certainly available at concerts by Marino Formenti, but not at the 5th Milton and Peggy Salkind International Piano Duo Festival, coming up in several locations, Aug. 7-9.

Other than the Formenti option, festival co-founder and Artistic Director Catherine Angelo says, the 2014 Salkind Festival, "A Baltic Voyage," highlighting the music of countries that border the Baltic Sea, will have all combinations and even ballet:

Returning to the region that inspired the festival’s creation more than a decade ago, we are very excited about collaborating with several Bay Area arts organizations to premiere a suite of the Russian composer Valery Gavrilin’s ballet, Anyuta with choreography by S.F. Ballet principal dancer Tiit Helimets, and guest artists from Smuin Ballet, San Francisco Opera Ballet, and Marin Dance Theatre.

We were introduced to the music of Valery Gavrilin in 1993 when we were performing at a piano duo festival in Novosibirsk, Siberia, and we recently discovered that the Gavrilin pieces that we have played and loved for 20 years were actually from a ballet. It is well known in Russia, but not here, and we are thrilled to introduce it to Bay Area audiences.

For Anyuta, with new choreography by S.F. Ballet principal dancer Tiit Helimets, he and dancers from Smuin Ballet, San Francisco Opera Ballet and Marin Dance Theater will participate.

For more conventional, but not less inviting programs in the festival, participating artists include the Bergmann, ZOFO, Firenze, Angelo, Turgeon, and other duos, along with individual artists from a variety of countries.

Along with — surprise! — Tiit HelimetsThe Duo Piano Festival is also an edition of the San Francisco International Music Festival (not to be mistaken for the San Francisco International Arts Festival). Angelo traces the history:

When Tony and I were touring Europe in the 1990’s as the Angelo Piano Duo, we were inspired by the powerful presence that piano duo had in so many countries abroad, especially in Russia, but we did not see the same emphasis in the US. So, we created the San Francisco International Music Festival (Sfmf) in 2002 to serve as a platform to showcase exceptional classical music, and highlight the under-appreciated piano duo genre.

As proud alumni of the S.F. Conservatory of Music, we also wanted to honor our teachers and mentors, Milton and Peggy Salkind and the Salkind Piano Duo by creating the Salkind International Piano Duo Festival. The inaugural Salkind Festival was in 2007, and it showcases works for one piano, four hands and two pianos. We also program ensemble works for 2 pianos, 6 hands and 8 hands as well as piano duo with other instruments.

Sfmf is more of an umbrella organization that has some flexibility to present programs of different genres. We produce the Salkind Festival to promote and spotlight the piano duo genre with each festival showcasing a different theme or focus.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

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