ZOFO Duet Prove Four Hands Are Better Than One
Have you ever seen two people sit down to a piano and play “Heart and Soul?” Well, this is nothing like that.
In 2009, accomplished solo pianists Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi joined forces, on one instrument, and the results were electric. By combining their talents, they created what would become one of the most award-winning and world-renowned piano duets performing today.
Zimmermann and Nakagoshi began performing as ZOFO Duet, named for the short hand of 20-Finger Orchestra (ZO=20 and FO=finger orchestra). Both former students of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, their partnership arose from a mutual respect for one particular composition.
“We fell in love with the same piece of music, [Igor Stravinsky’s] Rite of Spring,” Zimmermann said. “It is an extremely challenging piece for four hands. We read it without any plans, just for fun. But it went so well that we decided to work together. And the fun has remained part of it ever since.”
Having previously performed as solo artists, sharing one piano meant that the pair did have to get used to the crowded quarters, but they soon learned that anything is more exciting with a friend.
“Music is more fun when played together, especially on the same instrument,” Nakagoshi said. “We love the spontaneous aspect of it and having to work out the choreography.”
Since the inception of their partnership, ZOFO Duet have had two Grammy nominations, a first place win at the 2010 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, they were the only duo to be elevated to the final competition round of the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition, and they have been designated an official Steinway Artist Ensemble by the prestigious Steinway & Bros brand. The acclaimed musicians also must have practiced, practiced practiced; with ZOFO Duet having debuted at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York in 2010.
When ZOFO Duet Presents “The Universe and Beyond,” on stage at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater this Saturday, they bring with them selections familiar to their fans.
“People always love to hear pieces from our CDs,” Nakagoshi said. “Gershwin’s Cuban Overture is from our 2nd album, ‘Mosh Pit.’ Sisask’s Milky Way and Holst’s Planets are from our newest album, ‘ZOFOrbit.’ We are recording Riley’s Etude from the Old Country in December for our next album. Then there’s Petrushka, which we love to play, but haven’t recorded yet.”
As artists, Zimmermann and Nakagoshi don’t have to look very far for motivation.
“We’re inspired by good music, dance, art, literature, movies, scenes of every-day life, nature, even our own memories.” Zimmermann said. “And we inspire each other.”
Zimmermann and Nakagoshi are confident that their performance will be unlike anything the Inland Empire community has seen before and will be something they hopefully want to see again.
“[The audience] will see something close to figure skating, but on a piano, and they’ll say we’re having too much fun,” Zimmermann said. “Our name, ZOFO, stands for 20-Finger Orchestra, but it also stands for Zone of Fire Origin. Come see us burn down a concert piano!”