An Evening with Two Pianists Two Pianos and A Composer

Featuring: Philip Glass, Dennis Russell Davies & Maki Namekawa

Dennis Russell Davies and Maki Namekawa worked together for the first time in 2003. After their highly acclaimed performance at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, both musicians decided to continue their cooperation as a piano duo. Ever since then, they have given numerous performances. In New York they appeared at the Metropolitan Pavilion, at the Miller Theater and at the Austrian Culture Forum. Across the US, they have given further recitals at the Festival of Fine Arts of Florida Southern College in Lakeland, at Valparaiso University Center for the Arts, at Northwestern University in Evanston and at Other Minds Festival of New Music at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. In Europe the duo has performed at Colmar International Music Festival (France), at the Rheingau Festival (Germany), at Klangspuren (Switzerland) and at the Transart Festival (Italy). They are invited to perform on a regular basis at the Ruhr Piano Festival, at Ars Electronica in Linz and at Gmunden Festwochen. On the occasion of the Mozart Year in 2006, they collaborated with the Freyer Ensemble on Alexander Zemlinsky’s four-hand piano arrangement of the “Magic Flute”, a musical theatre production that reaped major successes in Germany and other countries. Furthermore Namekawa and Davies performed Zemlinsky’s four-hand arrangement of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” in a choreography by Jochen Ulrich at Linz Opera and at Theater an der Wien.

The duo’s DVD entitled “images 4 music,” featuring Steve Reich’s “Piano Phase” along with Philip Glass’s two works “Les Enfants Terribles” and “Visuals” (coupled with images by Martin Wattenberg, Lotte Schreiber and Norbert Pfaffenbichler), was nominated for the 2005 SWR/ZKM “International Media Award for Science & Art” and broadcast by SWR, ARTE and DRS (Swiss Television) in October of that same year. In early 2006 they released Alexander Zemlinsky’s four-hand piano arrangement of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” on CD, a recording well received by the press. In June 2007 the Ruhr Piano Festival Edition also released their recording of Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” likewise in a four-hand piano arrangement by Zemlinsky. In 2009 a CD with “American Piano Music” was released with works of Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland und Philip Glass, followed by a CD with Haydn’s “Jahreszeiten” and “Schöpfung” in 2010, also in a four-hand piano arrangement by Zemlinsky.

In April 2009 they performed Brahms and Bernstein at the Benaroya Hall in Seattle. Then, in May, at the “Musik im Riesen” festival held at Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens (Tyrol), they performed the Austrian première of Philip Glass’s “Four Movements for Two Pianos” and in July 2009 at Lincoln Center Festival New York which marked the piece’s American première. The duo continues to be regular performers at the Ruhr Piano Festival and the Salzkammergut Festwochen in Gmunden (A). Recent American performances include the Morgan Library in New York, Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and again a return to the Other Minds Festival.

Maki Namekawa studied piano at Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo with professors Mikio Ikezawa and Henriette Puig-Roget (Conservatoire de Paris). In 1994 she won the Leonid Kreutzer Prize, awarded yearly by the Japanese Kreutzer Society. In 1995 she continued her studies with Werner Genuit and Kaya Han at Karlsruhe School of Music, where she completed her diploma as a soloist with special distinction. She then went on to perfect her artistry in Classical-Romantic repertoire with Edith Picht-Axenfeld, and in contemporary music with György Kurtág, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Cologne Musikhochschule), Prof. Dr. Stefan Litwin (Saarbrücken Conservatory) and Florent Boffard.

In the meantime, Namekawa embarked on an impressive international solo career, performing with renowned ensembles such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Munich and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and the Linz Bruckner Orchestra. She made recordings for Radio France, WDR Cologne, BR Munich, SR Saarbrücken, HR Frankfurt and for the SWR in Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, for AVRO Klassiek (Hilversum) and for Swiss Radio.

Although Namekawa feels just as much at home in Classical-Romantic repertoire as in new music, her pronounced goal is to make works by contemporary composers better known to a wider audience and to integrate recent compositions into the “normal” musical panorama. She makes regular appearances on the international music scene, as for instance at the Ruhr Piano Festival, at the WDR Cologne Radio Festival “Pianorama”, at Berlin Music Biennale, at the Eclat Festival in Stuttgart, at Rheingau Music Festival, at Klangspuren (Schwaz, Austria) and at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. Namekawa has often collaborated in concert performances and recording projects organized by the ZKM Center for Arts and Media in Karlsruhe. Furthermore, she has made guest appearances at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, for example.

Since 2005, Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies have been performing together on a regular basis as a piano duo in Europe and the US – for instance, at Other Minds Festival of New Music in San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre, and yearly at the Ruhr Piano Festival from 2006 to present. The audience in the Essen Philharmonie was thrilled with their première performance in July 2008 of Philip Glass’s “Four Movements for Two Pianos”, commissioned by the Ruhr Piano Festival on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.

In recent seasons Namekawa played Alfred Schnittke’s Piano Concerto with the Concertgebouw Amsterdam as well as Elliott Carter’s “Dialogues for Piano and Orchestra.” With a series of renowned European ensembles she has also given successful performances of such seldom heard works as Stravinsky’s “Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments”, Shostakovich’s “Second Piano Concerto”, Schoenberg’s “Piano Concerto op.42” and John Cage’s “Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra.” She made her American recital debut in New York at Subculture in 2016 with a program of Shostakovich, Glass, Gershwin, and Jarrett.

In April 2009, she performed Alan Hovhaness’s “Lousadzak for Piano and String Orchestra” in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Since then she appeared with Linz Festival Sinfonietta conducted by Howard Griffiths and played the piano concert of György Ligeti with the Munich Chamber Orchestra. In 2012 she performed Arvo Pärts “Lamentate” at Carnegie Hall New York and Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano & wind Instruments with the Bamberger Symphoniker. Her recent recordings include Arvo Pärt’s “Lamentate,” Philip Glass’ film scores arranged for piano and cello octet with the Cello Octet Amsterdam, and a solo piano album of Glass’ score for the film Mishima.

Born in Toledo, OH, Dennis Russell Davies is widely known as one of the leading conductors of our time. Recently becoming the artistic director and principal conductor of the Brno Philharmonic effective beginning in the 2018-19 season, Davies recently concluded a stellar tenure as Chief Conductor of the Bruckner Orchester Linz and of Linz Opera between 2002 and 2017 finishing with an American tour during which the orchestra performed the world premiere of Philip Glass’ “Symphony No.11” which it commissioned. From 2009 to 2016 held the post of Chief Conductor of Basel Symphony Orchestra. His activities as an opera and concert conductor, as a pianist and chamber musician are characterized by a very broad repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the very modern, with an intense commitment to the composers of our time. As pianist and conductor, he has premièred major works by Robert Beaser, Luciano Berio, Henry Brant, William Bolcom, John Cage, Philip Glass, HK Gruber, Lou Harrison, Giya Kancheli, Thomas Larcher, Bruno Maderna, Philippe Manouri, Kurt Schwertsik, Johannes Maria Staud, Balduin Sulzer, Heinz Winbeck and Herbert Willi.

Davies began his piano studies at an early age. He first studied in Toledo, OH with Berenice B. McNab, and later with Lonny Epstein and Sascha Gorodnitzky at The Juilliard School of Music. Over the years, his chamber music partners have included Stuttgart Wind Quintet, cellist Janos Starker, violinists Oscar Shumsky and Romuald Tecco, oboist Heinz Holliger and singers Simon Estes, Hanna Schwarz, Wolfgang Schoene, Uwe Heilmann and Thomas Mohr. His recordings as a pianist can be found on ECM, Orphée, Orange Mountain Music and Koch-Schwann. His performances of Giya Kancheli’s Valse Boston and Philip Glass’s Tirol Concerto were released on ECM and Orange Mountain Music. His most recent recordings include the compilation of the complete Bruckner Symphonies on Sony, the album “Now, And Then” on ECM New Series, Arvo Pärt’s “Lamentate and These Words…” on Orange Mountain Music, and Philip Glass “Symphony No.11.” Dennis Russell Davies is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009).