Artist Profile: Elizabeth Bergmann

Our Resonate Series of Sunday matinee concerts closes on Sunday, April 28 with a very special concert to mark Leonard Bernstein’s centennial celebrations, performed by the Bergmann Duo Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann — on two Steinway pianos.

The Bergmann Duo has performed in recitals and with orchestras across North America and Europe and are known for eclectic programmes mixing classical and contemporary works.

Elizabeth is a collaborative pianist and chamber musician and the recipient of awards and prizes of international competitions such as the International Chamber Music Competition in Caltanissetta, Italy and the 4th Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition.

She has recorded on numerous releases with ensembles and artists appearing on the Arktos, Naxos and Brilliant Classics labels.

Her husband and duo partner, Marcel is a performer, composer, improviser and teacher. He has written numerous works for two pianos, film, theatre and cabaret productions, as well as choral and chamber music.

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Elizabeth fills us in about the Bernstein project and her partnership with Marcel.

Your upcoming concert celebrates the life and legacy of Leonard Bernstein. Have you been a long time admirer of his work?

Yes! We have been big fans for many years, in fact, Marcel's arrangement of West Side Story was one of his first major arranging projects for two pianos.

How different is your approach to a duo piano concert with Marcel as opposed to performing with a larger ensemble?

It is a very different thing as we have been doing this for over three decades. We have a routine and process that is well rehearsed and something we don't even have to talk about anymore. Each time, you play chamber music with other musicians you have to work out certain musical things etc., so it is a very different process.


Please tell us a little more about the concert's repertoire that also includes Bernstein's contemporaries such as Gershwin and Brubeck.

In the quasi Bernstein celebration programme, we are, of course, including Bernstein's own compositions such as West Side Story, but also are including repertoire of composers he admired and loved. Bernstein also loved jazz, so we are including some jazz compositions as well.

You and Marcel are directors of the Langley Community Music School. How do you juggle teaching alongside performing and recording?

It is a great opportunity to wear many different hats in a musical career. In addition to teaching and other administrative work at the school, we are also Artistic Directors of various concert series including a morning coffee concert series, where we perform regularly throughout the season as well as White Rock Concerts.

We enjoy sitting on both sides - one side as performers and the other as presenters and it provides us with a lot of insight in terms of programming and what audiences like. Although very stimulating, juggling these various tasks can be challenging at times especially at certain periods of the season when a lot of planning takes place and you have to balance that with your own practising and preparation.

What at advice do you give your students about careers in music?

Find your own voice and your own way - don't try to be anyone else other than yourself.

What's next for you and Marcel? Any special projects coming up?

Lots of exciting things like performances with orchestra of Marcel's Concerto for Two Pianos, recording projects, tours to Brazil and Europe… Marcel is continuously working on new arrangements for us and new compositions.

Join us this Sunday for the Bergmann Duo’s celebration of the life and legacy of Leonard Bernstein.

Zoe Quinn