German duo to compete on piano


Mallory Kutnick, Campus Reporter


Audience members can judge the performances of two professional German pianists 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Concert Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Andreas Kern and Paul Cibis will take turns playing songs in several rounds of the “Piano Battle,” each with a different genre.

The audience will determine the winner of every round. Cibis and Kern will also take listeners’ requests between rounds.

Cibis and Kern have been competing against one another since 2010, when they were both invited to play in the same time slot at a music festival in Hong Kong, China.

Cibis and Kern could not agree on what songs to play in Hong Kong, so they hatched a different plan instead.

“Why don’t we fight?” they remember asking themselves.

Cibis and Kern met in Berlin a few years prior to the Hong Kong festival, when a mutual friend got Cibis to play in a concert Kern had arranged. They had since lost contact, so they said it came as quite the surprise to meet again over 5,000 miles away in China.

The Hong Kong festival was a success, but Cibis and Kern did not return to the format of the Piano Battle until 2012. They have since toured the world, taking their friendly rivalry to Bulgaria, Taiwan, Italy, Russia and beyond.

Performing at schools worldwide, Cibis and Kern said they usually attract mostly younger students, with one exception being back home in Germany, where their crowds are older.

The duo said their audiences differ in size from country to country, including crowds of 2,000 or more in China.

They have only recently begun touring the U.S. and have performed in upwards of 15 Piano Battles in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Beaver Creek, Colorado, Chicago, and other cities.

The pianists will come to Eastern directly from Chandler, Arizona, where they last competed.

Both took up piano at the age of six. Cibis remembers having to share his family’s ivory keys with his brother and disliking when the older brother had a turn on the bench.

“I had an interest and an ear for it,” Cibis said.

Kern did not start out with a piano of his own and had to practice at a friend’s house before his parents bought him one.

Tickets to the Piano Battle are $7 for students, $13 for faculty members and $16 for community members.

Mallory Kutnick can be reacted at 581-2812 or at [email protected].