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Two grand pianos with two grand combatants. Six rounds. Thousands of judges. One winner. And of course, one loser.

The Kupferberg Center for the Arts will present Piano Battle at Queens College’s Colden Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 8 p.m.

Two internationally acclaimed virtuosos – Andreas Kern and Paul Cibis – will go head-to-head on stage in a competitive-but-informal recital of classic music. Piano Battle is a traveling, worldwide show, so the two men know each other well and enjoy the competition. They will trade jokes, do tricks, improvise, tell stories and maybe even make fun of each other as they play pieces by such composers as Schubert, Chopin, Scriabin and Ligeti.

Then the audience will vote to crown the “better pianist” of the night. (Attendees will actually be able to make song requests to direct the run of show.)

The two entertainers are friends, but all camaraderie disappears once the battle starts. Plus, they have very different styles. Cibis, who grew up in Europe, has released several albums, including a collection of French melodies and other pieces with German mezzo-soprano Barbara Senator. He has written scores for several short films and he loves to teach, having offered master classes in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and several European countries.

Kern, who hails from South Africa, has traveled the world as a solo performer and chamber musician. He likes to present classical music in unorthodox ways at unconventional venues, often collaborating with artists in other fields, such as theater and dance. He is also the creator and co-host of a variety show on the French-German television channel Arte during which he often tickles the ivories with the guests.

Like all great ideas, Piano Battle rose out of adversity. In 2016, Kern and Cibis were separately invited to the Hong Kong Music Festival, but scheduling issues forced them to gig together. A tour was born, and the duo has since engaged sold-out audiences in Asia, Europe and the United States. A Taiwan appearance had about 6,000 fans.

Ticket prices run from $30 to $49. Colden Auditorium seats more than 2,100 people. It is located in the vicinity of the Long Island Expressway, Kissena Boulevard and Reeves Avenue in Flushing.

 

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