MUSIC: Surrey husband-wife piano duo aims to build classical audience with close-to-home concerts

Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann take over 'Classical Coffee Concerts' at Surrey Arts Centre

The Bergmann Piano Duo — Surrey couple Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann — are frequent performers at the three Surrey Civic Theatres venues this fall

SURREY — Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann will be hitting a lot of piano keys at concerts in Surrey this fall, winter and spring.

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

The series, which starts on Oct. 13 with a “Beethoven and The Beatles” concert featuring guest violinist Mark Ferris, was hosted by Vancouver-based pianist Sarah Hagen since its inception in 2012.

Hagen, who has moved to the Toronto area, approached and encouraged the Bergmanns, her longtime 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 the Now.

“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.”

(Story continues below photo)

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 the Now 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 HERE, or phone 604-501-5566.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

 

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