NICOLE CHAO AND BETH CHEN FORM A DUO TEAM THAT COMBINES DAZZLING VIRTUOSITY AND ROMANTIC LYRICISM
"Unanimity of feeling and technical mastery"
"Exhilarating piano duet delight"
An intense musical experience
New Zealand classical music team Duo Enharmonics is energising and redefining classical music through their emotionally thrilling programmes, both live and on social media. Audience members frequently comment on the power of Nicole and Beth's energy and virtuosity, and on the palpable intensity of feeling that comes from the pianists' deep devotion to the musical worlds they inhabit and share in concert.
Described by one reviewer as an "exhilarating piano duet delight," Duo Enharmonics seeks a transformative state in which one's mind, body, and virtual musical world become one. From the first gesture preparing the first sonic moment of a piece, until the closing gesture extinguishing the final sound, Beth and Nicole commit to living fully in their shared virtual musical world. One reviewer describes a "unanimity of feeling and technical mastery." This shared vision is seen in their harmonised physical gestures. And it is heard in their remarkably synched sonic utterances, which are saturated with subtleties of nuance only made possible after years of full-time duo partnership.
The Journey: Friendship, Reunion
Beth and Nicole completed their Master of Music in Piano Performance degrees together at the New Zealand School of Music, during which time they formed an enduring friendship. They then pursued independent performing careers, finding success in national and international concerto and solo competitions. It was in 2017, on Beth's return to New Zealand following a musical career in Europe, that the two pianists decided to musically reunite and dedicate themselves primarily to chamber music. They formed Duo Enharmonics, and began ongoing collaborations with members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand String Quartet, and Orchestra Wellington. Duo Enharmonic's national appearances include an upcoming national tour with Chamber Music New Zealand in 2022.
Across continents, centuries, and cultures
The duo's repertoire spans across vastly different time periods and genres of music, and includes all major works for piano duet and piano duo, including orchestral transcriptions. Equally excited by the unique sounds of New Zealand contemporary composers as they are by the familiar melodies of baroque, classical, romantic, and twentieth-century composers, Duo Enharmonics carefully construct their programmes to take audiences on epic emotional journeys. They present thrilling virtuosic showpieces alongside deeply spiritual musical reflections. While some programmes are themed, some are based on particular psychological trajectories. But most of their concerts end with a bang—with a celebration of the piano's potential for massive symphonic sound. Audience participants commonly remark that Duo Enharmonics concerts resemble exhilarating rollercoaster rides.
Sharing with communities; inspiring the next generation
Alongside their teaching work, Nicole and Beth are dedicated to supporting the community through chamber music. They strive to present classical music in as many settings as possible, bringing the joy of music to ever wider audiences. Their Front Row Classical Series—house concerts with food and wine—brings communities together for free music and supports both emerging and established artists. Other community outreach activities include presenting school concerts for children, and holding benefit concerts for charities including Women's Refuge, Wellington Children's Hospital, Wellington Zoo, and the charitable trust Arohanui Strings.
In all cases, Beth and Nicole aim to draw people in for intimate musical experiences, made even more special by their reflective and educational introductions to each piece they play. Their self-produced music videos of four-hand music and their "behind-the-scenes" clips spread their appeal. And their live concerts are designed to be friendly and interactive, bringing listeners and musicians into the same magical space. In a recent Radio New Zealand interview, Beth described the piano as a "self-contained island," and talked of the beauty of sharing that island with your best friend. In their concerts, Duo Enharmonics invite their listeners onto their island of musical delight.