Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Sunday, January 19, 2014
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Piano concert today at St. Paul's Church

Special to the Citizen

Jiayin Shen and Michael Berkovsky will perform a technically challenging and musically exciting four hands piano repertoire today at 4 p.m. at St. Paul's Church, 401 Duval St., Key West.

The concert is presented by Impromptu Classical Concerts.

"People say that 'it takes two to tango'; we could not agree more with that statement!" Shen and Bewrkovsky wrote in a press release about their concert.

Playing chamber music in general requires musicians to be "tuned-in" to the musical expression and ideas of their partners. This concept is even more heightened when the two pianists share one instrument, one bench, they wrote.

The piano is limited to seven octaves and in the four-hands compositions, these are divided and shared between the two players, often resulting in hands crossing over each other or playing within very close proximity one to another. This creates some movement restrictions that need to be resolved by mutual compromise and accommodation. Shen/Berkovsky Duo's varied repertoire at St. Paul's includes Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Gottschalk, Ravel and Astor Piazzolla's "Two Tangos." Piazzolla introduced elements of jazz and classical to create "nuevo tango," a highly creative reworking of traditional Argentine tango.

"Technical challenges aside, it is also a lot of fun performing with another pianist by your side," the press release stated. "The repertoire and interaction between us is the most enjoyable aspect of performing piano four hands music. Our performance energy as a duo is very different from that of our solo performance."

The duo has been collaborating since 2004, when they first appeared at Pianofest in Southampton, N.Y. Since then, they have performed for many audiences in the United States and Canada, in large and private venues. Their concerts always include open stage conversations that engage the audience more closely with the repertoire being performed, a practice appreciated by Key West audiences.

This past year, Shen was selected for the Artist in Residence Program at the Studio of Key West, where she presented three solo salon concerts to the community in April 2013.

"I very much look forward to returning to Key West and sharing exquisite music with the community again," said Shen. "I was taken by the warm welcome of the diverse community, and its immense cultivation and appreciation for all forms of art."

Both pianists hold doctoral degrees in piano performance from Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University and performed worldwide on some of the most prestigious concert stages. Dr. Shen is currently on the faculty of Peabody Conservatory Preparatory Division, Garrison Forest School, in Maryland, and a visiting professor at Qingdao University, China.

Dr. Berkovsky was a guest artist at Naples music festival in 2012, and returned as guest artist at the Rachmaninoff conference in February 2013.

Concert tickets are $20 at the door one hour before the performance. All students free.

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