Q&A With The Piano Brothers
For you personally what will be the highlights of your forthcoming show at Live at Zedel?
DF: It’s always nice to perform in an intimate environment such as Live At Zedel. We perform many shows where the audience are a long way away from the stage so it’ll be nice to give the audience an opportunity to see the show up close.
EH: I think the highlight of the show will be the interaction between us and the audiences on the new pieces which involve more audience participation.
Who do you think would particularly enjoy your show? What kind of range of people do you find come along?
DF: I’d like to think that the show will appeal to people who appreciate a wide variety of musical genres as we try to include as many as possible in our live performances. In a typical show we would include film music, musical theatre, our original arrangements of pop songs, together with original compositions. We find that this appeals to young children (particularly those that are studying piano) right up to older adults with varying musical tastes.
EH: One of our goals is to try to introduce piano music to broader audiences, to people who don’t usually listen to piano music or come to piano recitals. We want to show the possibilities of playing varieties of genres on this instrument. Obviously, the performance and arrangements will be based on our classical training.
This is your only UK show this year - what else have you been up to recently as The Piano Brothers, and working solo?
DF: The Piano Brothers recently made their debut on BBC Radio’s 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night which will be broadcast in September. This took the form of a live outdoor concert in Malta with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Between 15,000 - 20,000 were in attendance and the concert was one of the largest events in Malta in recent years. We also continue to tour around Asia and are in the process of planning our 2020 schedule.
EH: Aside from our shows as The Piano Brothers in Asia, working solo I have been doing some composing for feature films and advertisements.
What have been your highlights looking back on all your shows with The Piano Brothers?
DF: Our debut London performance in 2013 will always be very memorable. It was hosted by Steinway & Sons and took place at Steinway Hall London. Steinway have been a great support with everything we’ve done over the years and we continue to enjoy performing on their world class instruments.
EH: Definitely recording BBC Radio 2 Friday Night Is Music Night in Malta, as well as recording at Abbey Road with the London Symphony Orchestra.
What do you think is the reason for Piano Brothers’ global popularity?
DF: Music is an international language, particularly instrumental music where there are no language barriers whatsoever! It’s wonderful to be able to take the same show and play in any country where the music resonates with different cultures. A careful balance of the correct material, together with just the right sort of musical arrangement is key to the success of what we strive to create.
EH: I think it is because the music is easy to understand, and if we play something more difficult and technically demanding, the theatrical element of the virtuosity is also fun to watch.
Is there anything you’ve not yet done musically as the Piano Brothers - and/or solo - which you’re keen to do?
DF: As far as the UK goes, we would love to perform at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall or indeed the Royal Variety Show. The beauty of the act is that the style of performance works in so many different live environments. There are also many festivals all over the world where we would love to perform, particularly in Europe.
EH: Still many, I think it would be nice to play in Glastonbury as pianists, collaborate with a pop star or even a DJ, playing together inside a soundtrack of a movie, and so on.
What are the joys/opportunities and challenges of working so closely with another pianist on stage?
DF: Before playing live as The Piano Brothers, it took us around two years to ‘learn’ each other’s playing and mannerisms to ensure a failsafe live performance style. Our show relies a great deal on listening to the other player, making sure that we are striving to play ‘as one’. Also, having two pianos allows us to create grand and intricate arrangements that wouldn’t always be possible with a single instrument.
EH: Actually, I feel more enjoyable to have a partner on stage, to share the stage and enjoy it together. The challenges will be mostly technical as we all have different preference on technical matters, on how soft or loud the speaker monitor is, the height of the stool (as you may know Dominic and I have different body heights, and it influences the stool height needed!), and obviously, to keep playing in sync is also a kind of art which needs some hard work to master.
Where are you favourite places to visit in London when you’re in town?
DF: London is a very artistic town, so it’s always nice to find coffee shops and restaurants that exude a musical or theatrical theme. Joe Allen’s is a ‘must visit’. Picture House Central in Shaftesbury Avenue is also a good central location for a good coffee and a chat!
EH: We both love Steinway Hall as they are always welcoming us whether we perform or when we practice on their pianos, but to visit, I love museums, especially the Natural History Museum. I always visit Denmark Street to see, or shop for, equipment and instruments for my studio. The very diverse culture in London also brings us a very big variety of high-quality restaurants from many kind of countries. Next to that, I enjoy going to the traditional markets like Borough Market.
Tell us a fun fact about you that we might not know!
DF:: I love flying and anything to do with commercial aviation. It’s so different to what I do professionally which provides a lovely contrast and something else to focus on when music gets too much (which isn’t very often!). It’s also quite handy as our work involves a great deal of travel, so it’s nice to be able to enjoy the travel itineraries, which can sometimes be fairly involved!
EH: I really love toys. Not in the terms of playing, buying, and collecting, but in the terms of following the trend and the industry. It is interesting to see how the toys industry is always closely related to trends in cinema and pop culture.