Cheryl Cooney and Debra Bakland usually play their piano duets while sitting across the room from each other at two different keyboards.
Sometimes they’ve even joined up with other musicians to play as a group on three or four pianos.
But on Thursday, Jan. 5, Cooney and Bakland will sit next to each other to perform on one instrument for their International Duo di Molto concert at the Snell Auditorium at the Red Deer Public Library. Why four hands on one keyboard?
“Because it’s fun!” said Cooney, who grew up playing “sit-down” duets with cousins — especially around the holidays.
Although the Red Deer pianist and Bakland, who teaches in Lacombe, have to anticipate each other’s movements to avoid getting “all tangled up” as they play, there’s something special about hearing a piece of music born out of close co-operation between partners, said Cooney. She believes listeners will appreciate the richness of tone provided by all the additional notes.
The two pianists are planning an Austrian-themed concert as part of the First Thursdays at the Snell series. Brahms’ waltzes from 1865 (Numbers 1-5, 8 and 14) will be performed at the free noon-hour show. The dances were influenced by stately Viennese waltzes, said Cooney. “People will recognize some of this music.”
Mozart’s colourful Sonata for Four Hands in B-Flat Major, will take listeners through a vibrant opening, a lovely, slow middle, and a peppy ending, reminiscent of an operetta soundtrack.
Schubert’s Fantasie in F Minor “is one of the most beautiful pieces in our repertoire,” said Cooney.
The movements are, by turns, nostalgic, dramatic and dance-like.
Bakland and Cooney have performed as a duo around Central Alberta for the last three years.
They met at Burman University in Lacombe, where Washington State native Bakland teaches music and Cooney has performed as an accompanist for students since retiring from music instruction at Red Deer College.
The women bring together a wealth of experience. Cooney is also a composer, who studied in Austria and the U.S., and had her own works performed across the globe.
Bakland, who joined Burman after a 30-year teaching career in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, has adjudicated, presented workshops, and mentored students who have won many awards.