The Piano Brothers are not brothers by blood but by divine, energetic and rich music that is accessible to everyone. Bound together by the love of all-encompassing music, Dominic Anthony Ferris and Elwin Hendrijanto began performing together in 2009 whilst studying at the Royal College of Music. In the last five years they have worked hard to become one of the most sensational piano duos in London’s notoriously difficult to rise and shine music scene through their innovative outlook on how music, life and people should be brought together under one roof. Before going to the epic concert put on 25 June with the immense efforts of individuals as well as Talent Unlimited, a London-based international charity established by Canan Maxton and dedicated to young and upcoming musicians, one assumes that it will be another relaxing and emotional evening of classical music played on two grand pianos made by Steinway & Sons. Now, that can be the case with any other piano duo but when it comes to the Piano Brothers one is surely in for the musical journey of a lifetime. The incessant suspense these two young masterminds create on stage with the use of theatrical elements is enough to make anyone forget they are attending a “classical music concert”.
If you are already curious and would like to check them out online, the only video you will find will be the promo video in which the Piano Brothers play their unbelievably powerful version of Uprising by Muse. They also played this arrangement at the concert and in return received a great deal of applause. Another song that is as famous as the former one, Viva la Vida by Radiohead was also performed with utmost sensitivity. Re-arranging a well-known song by a famous rock group can be risky business but believe it when I say, “They really pulled it off.”
The musical theatre element of the Piano Brothers’ repertoire is as striking as it is highly pleasurable. A beautiful new arrangement of I Dreamed A Dream from Lés Miserables by the Piano Brothers, as well as Symphonic Dances from West Side Story arranged by John Musto were only a couple of the highlights of the concert. From the exquisite stage lighting by Alex Allen to the fine piano tuning by Ulrich Gerhartz of Steinway & Sons, from the immaculate acoustics of Hall One of Kings Place (designed as a collaboration by architect Dixon Jones and Arup’s acousticians) to the projection of Dominic and Elwin’s piano-adoring hands shown on a back screen managed by Pol Valls the entire concert was organised in a very timely and suitable manner.
Ballade for Steinway, composed by Piano Brothers to cherish not only the ultimate quality of pianos manufactured by Steinway &Sons but also to celebrate the 160th anniversary of this reputable brand, was accompanied by a beautiful short-film displaying the arduous stages of piano manufacturing. Hooked on Classics, a seamless arrangement of 64 classical compositions that mixed and mashed all genres of music provided a whirlwind of music history through well-known composers. It was unexpectedly interrupted by the cheekiness of a brilliant male singer sitting on the right hand-side balcony, who twirling a pink parasol shouted out, “Stop this wretched nonsense. I am here to listen to classical music!” With that first surprise, the Piano Brothers concert was transformed into a jaw-dropping performance peppered with a great sense of humour. The world-premiere of the Piano Brother’s version Feed the Birds written by the Sherman Brothers (Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman) and featured in the 1964 motion picture Mary Poppins, was another highlight of the concert. This was followed by the stage presence of Robert J Sherman, the son of the late Robert B. Sherman, who delivered a highly emotional and succinct speech.
After listening to the entire concert with a heavy heart, the Piano Brother’s rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water written by Simon & Garfunkel and released as a single in 1970 was the point at which one could no longer hold back his/her tears. Elwin Hendrijanto introduced the song through Elvis Presley, whose cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song will remain immortal through the years to come, by referring to Presley as “a musician who will always be in his heart”. A microphone was placed on the stage for Presley while photographs of the King, whose untimely death at the age of 42 devastated millions of fans, were shown on the screen. He must have been there in spirit.
Anticipating that the audience would need cheering up after such sentimental moments, the Piano Brothers turned the concert into a Glee-like show by performing their version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy. Dancers in sparkly dresses, singers singing at the top of their voices and wild saxophones all came to a halt at the popping of confetti. A cacophony of musical and theatrical influences, an admirable amount of organisation, a huge sense of team-work and the unequalled vision of two young musicians resulted in a truly engaging performance and a standing ovation that lasted well over a minute.
The Piano Brothers performed on 25 June at Kings Place, London. To find out more, visit www.pianobromain.com.
1. The Piano Brothers, image courtesy of SutherlandRowe Photography.