Piano Battle started more or less by accident – with only one concert slot left at the Hong Kong City Festival, the organisers suggested the pianists Andreas Kern and Paul Cibis share the stage. What emerged from their festival scrambling was a performance battle, and one that would go beyond a single night and expand to a global tour with a rapturous following. Since then the duo has played to sold-out audiences in Asia, Europe and the USA, and this Sunday, the contest lands at Perth Concert Hall.
Speaking with Scenestr earlier this month, Kern says the show “stands for classical music and entertainment. In our show, the competition is serious in the sense that we always go out on stage to win. But of course, music was not written for competitions and our battle is to be taken with a twinkle in the eye.”
In such a spirit of wry competition, the artists will battle it out over six rounds, performing works by composers such as Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Schubert. In a feat daringly remote to the world of classical music, requests will also be taken from the audience. At the end of each round concert guests are invited to hold up a card to indicate their choosing.
“The audience has to listen very intensely,” Cibis notes in the same interview, “because they have to make a decision and we hope that this close attention will also increase their enjoyment of the music. Our somewhat different and light-hearted format will hopefully interest new audiences in classical music and make them understand that the classics can be great fun. That would be the best outcome.”
Both pianists were trained in Germany under rigorous tutelage. Kern, who was born in South Africa, studied piano in Cologne and Berlin with Günter Ludwig and Pascal Devoyon. The German-born Cibis was educated in Hanover, Berlin and England and went on to teach at the Trinity College of Music in London.
Such classical training should guarantee a close and contentious duel within the walls of Perth’s home of classical music. Let the battle begin!
Piano Battle will be held this Sunday at Perth Concert Hall. Tickets are still available here.