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Paige Lim
Sunday, Jun 8, 2014

Showbiz

Duo duels on the keyboard

The Straits Times | Paige Lim | Sunday, Jun 8, 2014

Grey Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, known as The Anderson & Roe Piano Duo. The pair have been described as “Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers transposed from the dance floor to the keyboard” and “the intense synchronisation of genius” by the international press.

The first piece pianists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe played together as a duo was Johannes Brahms' Variations On A Theme By Haydn, Op. 56, at a school recital when they were 20-year-old students at the Juilliard School.

Twelve years on, the pair, now known as The Anderson & Roe Piano Duo, will be performing that same piece at their Flights Of Fantasy Concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall next Friday. Anderson says in a telephone interview: "Brahms' Variations On A Theme is a very nostalgic piece for us because it was there from the very beginning."

He and Roe, both 32, met when they were freshmen during orientation at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York in 2000. They graduated at the same time, both earning a bachelor's in 2004 and a master's in Piano Performance in 2006.

Known for their exhilarating performances and original four-hand transcriptions, the pair have been described as "Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers transposed from the dance floor to the keyboard" and "the intense synchronisation of genius" by the international press.

Their second album, When Words Fade, spent nearly a dozen weeks at the top of the Billboard Classical Charts in 2011.

They have produced three albums so far, the most recent being An Amadeus Affair, which was released in February.

Besides their albums, they are also known for their whimsical music videos, which they produce themselves. Their videos have been viewed by millions on YouTube and received Emmy nominations.

The duo's creativity evidently spans no boundaries. In the final instalment of their 10-part film project The Rite Of Spring, released early this year, they set a 135-year-old organ on fire while performing on it.

"Through our wild and exciting music videos, we hope to energise young audiences and draw them into the world of classical music," says Anderson, adding that they are inspired by film-makers such as Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Jonze and Lee Ang.

If not for that serendipitous first recital at Juilliard, Anderson and Roe's partnership might never have come to be.

Roe, a Korean-American, says neither of them had aspirations to set up a piano duo. They experienced an epiphany only after the performance, realising that they could actually turn playing together into a career.

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