Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann are partners on and off stage. The duelling pianists

Langley music school pianists share their love and skills

Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann are going to be hitting the keys on their pianos all over the Lower Mainland, including Langley and Surrey.

by Tom Zillich/Black Press

Langley Community Music School’s artistic director Elizabeth Bergmann, and her husband Marcel – both active in the Langley music scene for years – are sharing their talents in the neighbouring community of Surrey (plus others) this coming season.

The South Surrey-based couple, known professionally as Bergmann Piano Duo, are taking over Classical Coffee Concert series (like the Concerts Cafe Classico at LCMS) at the Surrey Arts Centre, but similar series in Nanaimo, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge.

This husband-wife piano duo aims to build classical audience with concerts.

Bergmanns will be hitting a lot of piano keys at concerts in Surrey this fall, winter, and spring.

For starters, the South Surrey-based couple have taken over the Thursday-morning “Classical Coffee Concerts” held at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre.

The series kicked off today (Thursday, Oct. 13) with a Beethoven and The Beatles concert, featuring guest violinist Mark Ferris.

It was hosted by Vancouver-based pianist Sarah Hagen, who has moved to the Toronto area, approached and encouraged the Bergmanns – her long-time musical friends – to host not only the Surrey series, but similar ones in Nanaimo, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and other B.C. burgs.

The Bergmanns gratefully signed on, resulting in a rather hectic concert calendar for them from now until June.

“This came up kind of out of the blue from Sarah, and it was very short notice,” Marcel told Black Press. “In some ways it was almost a bit overwhelming because our season was already very busy, packed with concerts, and we weren’t sure we’d be able to fit everything in. But we have, thankfully.”

In Surrey, the duo will also do a Jan. 28 concert at Centre Stage featuring the music of Pink Floyd, and a Broadway Love Stories show, featuring music from Porgy and Bess and West Side Story, on March 12 at Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage.

What’s more, the Bergmanns are also now fully involved as artistic directors of the long-running White Rock Concerts series, which opens on Friday (Sept. 30) with a performance by Lafayette String Quartet.

“It’s great to be performing so often so close to our home, of course, although the White Rock series sees us perform just once (on Feb. 17 with Vancouver Chamber Choir),” Elizabeth noted.

“In Surrey,” Marcel continued, “we feel there is a certain momentum and energy here, and (the city) is generating its cultural identity. I think there is a real demand for, and interest in, culture, in classical music, and in some ways it’s still experimental, because we’re still building audiences. It will be interesting for us to see how that goes, how we can build an audience and recruit more people, and that’d be a great thing.”

The Bergmanns, who met while studying music in Hanover, Germany, have been performing as a duo for more than two decades, riffing mostly on classical sounds but also adding jazz, pop, rock and show tunes. They moved here from Calgary early this decade, and found a place for their grand pianos at a house in the Ocean Park area.

“This just felt like a great place to live one day, because we have visited relatives here often,” Marcel told Black Press back in 2012.

Since then, the Bergmanns have sought both collaborative and duo-only concerts to perform around B.C.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve done a series like this, the series Sarah did, but in Calgary we always played with musicians from concert to concert, with the Land’s End Chamber Ensemble,” Elizabeth explained. “In Calgary, that’s where we got to know a lot of people we’re going to play with this fall and winter.”

This season, other Classical Coffee Concerts at Surrey Arts Centre include a Christmas Fantasies event on Dec. 8, From Bach to Brubeck with guest percussionist Rod Thomas Squance on Feb. 5, a Three’s a Crowd… Not! return-engagement with Hagen on March 12, and L’histoire du Tango with flautist Paolo Bortolussi on April 23. All of the 11 a.m. concerts start with a social hour at 10 a.m. Series details can be found at Surrey. ca/culture-recreation/1680. aspx, or phone 604-501-5566.

 

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