Named one of CBC Music’s “30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30,” the Cheng² Duo (pronounced Cheng Squared Duo) is about to perform works by the great Russian masters when it arrives at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre on Jan. 18.
The next presentation of the North Okanagan Community Concert Association (NOCCA) 2017-18 concert season, the brother-and-sister duo is made up of 20-year-old cellist Bryan Cheng, recipient of the 2017 Canada Council for the Arts Michael Measures Prize, and pianist Silvie Cheng, 27, recipient of the Roy M. Rubinstein Award for exceptional promise in piano performance.
Reunited for the holidays in their hometown of Ottawa, which is currently undergoing a deep freeze, the siblings have been preparing for this tour that takes them to B.C. for two weeks, followed by five weeks in Ontario and Quebec.
“We have been enjoying some family time in the current coldest capital of the world,” said Silvie in a newsletter to the duo’s supporters. “Bryan, the true Canadian among us, even said he missed -30C weather while living abroad.”
Raised in Ottawa, Silvie was born in Tokyo and moved to Canada with her parents, who are of Chinese heritage, before Bryan was born. The siblings started making music together 14 years ago and still perform regularly even though Bryan has been living and studying in Berlin, while Silvie is currently based in New York City, where she teaches and performs as a solo artist as well as in the piano trio sTem.
This past year was a busy one for the Cheng² Duo, with the launch of an all-Canadian multimedia program titled An Elemental Expedition and the recording of the duo’s sophomore album, which contains all-Spanish solo and duo works.
“We had a fantastic time during the recording sessions in Berlin and the Spanish CD is scheduled to be released before summer 2018,” said Silvie.
The duo’s 2016 debut album, Violoncelle français, which has received positive reviews by the international press and publications in Europe, Canada, and the U.S., was also recently selected as one of eight CDs of the Year by WCRB, a classical radio station in Boston.
Cheng² also had a busy year performing, with recitals at the Waterside Summer Series on Amherst Island, the Cornwall Concert Series, and the Virtuosi Series in Winnipeg.
In addition to its tours of BC, Ontario and Quebec this year, Cheng² is scheduled to perform at McMaster University in Hamilton and at UCLA in California, while Bryan will make his debut solo performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Niagara Symphony in St. Catherine’s, Ont.
For their performance in Vernon, the NOCCA audience can expect an all-Russian program.
“Audiences will hear beloved masterworks by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, alongside lesser-known gems by Scriabin, Glazunov, Arensky, and more,” said Silvie.
The Cheng² Duo takes the stage at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40/adult and $20/youth at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.
The NOCCA is presenting two special concerts at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Jan. 28.
The first, starting at 2 p.m and hosted by renowned Vancouver pianist Sarah Hagen, is MORE NOYSE (North Okanagan Youth Showcase of Excellence), which features the talents of local youth performers in music and dance.
That evening at 7:30 p.m., Hagen will take the stage in her tongue-in-cheek autobiographical performance of Perk up, Pianist!
In the show, Hagen transforms her award-winning role as concert pianist into a stand-up, or rather, sit-down comedy. Pairing anecdotes with music, Perk up, pianist! takes you deep inside the world of a classical musician as she shares her earnest efforts to keep her spirits up in the midst of troublesome times.
Both shows are fundraising performances to establish a performing arts scholarship fund for youth in the North Okanagan.
Separate from the NOCCA season, tickets for MORE NOYSE are $20 for adults, $15 for NOCCA subscribers, and $10 for youth 18 and under. Tickets for Sarah Hagen are $30 for adults, $25 for NOCCA subscribers and $20 for youth. Tickets are $40 for adults, $30 for NOCCA subscribers and $20 for youth to attend both events as long as they are purchased at the same time. Get them at the Ticket Seller box office, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.