Pianists Stephanie Kai-Win Ho and Saar Ahuvia collaborate as DUO Stephanie and Saar in performances noted for their artistic versatility, pianistic elegance and intellectual curiosity.
To launch the 2015-16 season, the duo’s performance at the Sarajevo Chamber Music Festival featured George Crumb’s dazzling Celestial Mechanics for amplified piano and other cutting-edge American works to international acclaim by Radio Sarajevo. “Stephanie and Saar’s last night’s performance once again recalled all the epithets of elegant and innovative, that have been following them throughout their career. This was an opportunity for the audience to be part of the latest current in new music performance practice, at its world’s highest level.”
As recording artists, the duo features works with concomitant classical and contemporary sensibilities. Beethoven Dialogues, their 2014 albumfeaturing Beethoven Quartets Op. 18 Nos. 1, 4 and 6 in rarely heard four hand arrangements, was performed in its entirety at New York City’s (le) poisson rouge and chosen as Album of the Week on WQXR. Bach Crossings, the duo’s 2012 album featuring György Kurtág’s illuminating transcriptions of Bach, continues to receive acclaim. International Piano Magazine states, “It is clear from the precision and elegant phrasing on this disc that this is a tight partnership between pianists who have developed an implicit understanding of each other’s musicality.” The New York Times praised their “beautifully understated performances” of selections from the disc.
DUO Stephanie and Saar are the artistic directors of Makrokosmos Project, a new music festival in Portland, Oregon dedicated to American music and performances by Oregon-based performers. The 2015 inaugural festival featured a complete performance of George Crumb’s Makrokosmos I & II as well as music by Oregon’s Kenji Bunch and David Crumb. Oregon Arts Watch frankly states “It was one of 2015’s peak Oregon musical moments.”
2014-15 performance highlights include Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365 with Musikkreis Horgen (Switzerland), PianoForte Salon Live on Chicago’s WFMT 98.7, Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation’s “Film Goes Classical: A 2 Piano Celebration of the Movies” at Miami’s Coral Gables Arts Cinema and Beethoven’s Quartet in C Major, Op. 59 No 3 “Razumovsky” on All Classical Portland’s Thursdays @ Three.
In April 2014, a jazz-inspired concert at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center featured a world premiere of a two piano Afro-Cuban work by jazz pianist Martin Bejerano. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, DUO Stephanie and Saar toured the work in four-hand, two-piano and mixed ensemble arrangements. At a sold-out performance at (le) poisson rouge, Zachary Wolfe of the New York Times stated, “All the hallmarks of a great “Rite” were here.”
Other recent notable performances include a special collaboration with the New World Symphony Percussion Consort in Miami of a new arrangement of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka by Michael Linville. The duo has been featured three times at the Portland Piano International Festival, where Oregon Arts Watch praised “their phenomenal two-piano version of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Petrouchka…a prodigious feat of memory and near orchestral colors.” The duo takes special pride in a performance at the residence of the United States Ambassador in Berlin, Germany.
Stephanie and Saar, who are married to each other, reside in New York City.