Pianists Stephanie Ho and Saar Ahuvia collaborate as DUO Stephanie and Saar in performances noted for their versatility, elegance and intellectual curiosity.
The New York Times praised their “beautifully understated performances” of the György Kurtág transcriptions of the music of Bach, featured on their 2012 CD Bach Crossings. Glowing reviews for the album have followed suit; Laurence Vittes writes in the Huffington Post “In addition to being drop dead gorgeous, these performances explain what voicing is in Bach”, and International Piano Magazine notes “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.”
Performance highlights in recent seasons include a special collaboration with the New World Symphony Percussion Consort in Miami of a brand new arrangement of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka by Michael Linville and a recital in Washington DC’s prestigious Dumbarton Oaks concert series. They duo has been featured twice at the Portland Piano International Festival, where the Oregon Arts Watch claimed “their phenomenal two-piano version of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Petrouchka…a prodigious feat of memory and near orchestral colors”. Other notable performances include the Dranoff Two Piano Foundation’s outreach event Piano Slam at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series and Baltimore’s Yale Gordon Center for the Performing Arts. The duo takes special pride in a recital they performed at the residence of the United States Ambassador in Berlin, Germany.
A keen interest in programming innovative and thought-provoking repertoire has led DUO Stephanie & Saar to explore a wide range of compositions, from Guillame de Machaut to György Kurtág, Olivier Messiaen’s monumental Visions de l’Amen, as well as their own four-hand transcription of A Time for Love by jazz pianist Bill Evans. Deeply committed to new music, the duo has premiered works by Andrew Rudin, Philippe Bodin, Matt van Brink, Hywel Davies, Jay Anthony Gach, Paul Hefner, Henry Martin and Dana Richardson. As recipients of New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs Performing Arts Grant, the duo presented Sounds of New York, a concert devoted to New York composers at Queens College. A grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts was key in presenting a special concert celebrating George Crumb’s 80th birthday at NYC’s (le) poisson rouge. Collaboration with actors has led to “Intimate Letters”, music and letter readings of Leoš Janáček, and “A Life in Letters”, music and readings exploring the intricate relationship between Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.
Stephanie and Saar have been heard in live radio broadcasts on Chicago’s WFMT-FM, New York’s WNYC and WQXR, Washington’s WETA and Baltimore’s WBJC. The duo made their orchestral debut as soloists with the Czech Republic’s Pilsen Radio Symphony Orchestra performing Bohuslav Martinů’s Concerto for Two Pianos.
While pursuing Graduate studies at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Stephanie and Saar were inspired by Leon Fleisher to explore the Beethoven string quartets in a duo piano setting. Mr. Flesher’s mentorship was furthered by support from Julian Martin and Boris Slutsky, of The Juilliard School and Peabody Institute, respectively. Two Performing Artist Residencies at Canada’s Banff Centre in 2005 and 2006 helped solidify their creative partnership. Saar Ahuvia, a native of Israel, studied in Israel's Tel Aviv Academy and Switzerland's Schaufhausen Conservatory before coming to the United States to pursue a Graduate Performance Diploma with Leon Fleisher at Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Stephanie Ho, of Taiwanese descent, grew up in Portland, Oregon before obtaining degrees from Oberlin College and Northwestern University. She received a Graduate Performance Diploma from Peabody Institute, under the direction of Julian Martin. Stephanie and Saar, who are married to each other, reside in New York City.