The Pianist Magazine
The Güher-Süher Pekinel Piano Duo attracts exceptional attention in the international music scene for and beyond their leading position amongst the artists of our day. Their orchestral engagements include performances with distinguished orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonia, Israel Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra National de France, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Tokyo Philharmonic, and Leipzig Gewandhaus. They have performed in the world’s leading concert halls, amongst others, New York Carnegie Hall, Wiener Musikverein, Avery Fisher Hall (New York), München Philharmonie, Paris Champs Elysées, Royal Festival Hall, La Scala, Berliner Philharmonie, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Luzern KKL, Chicago Symphony Hall, Großes Festspielhaus Salzburg, Tokio NHK Hall and Concertgebouw Amsterdam and with internationally renowned conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Neville Marriner, Christoph von Dohnányi, Riccardo Chailly, Paavo Jaervi, Michel Plasson and Marek Janowski. Their extensive recital tours spanning the major music halls of Europe, Far East, Japan, and the United States have received wide critical acclaim for their extraordinary poetical musicality, pianistic perfection with genuine style and interpretation. The Pekinels are the only duo in the world, who sit back to back and play without any eye contact in order to concentrate on their own personal “breath of musical momentum”.
They first appeared in public at the age of six and made their orchestral debut three years later with the Ankara Philharmonic in a live radio performance. After studying at the Conservatoire de Paris and Musikhochschule in Frankurt, they pursued their studies at the Philadelphia Curtis Institute of Music with the great pianist Rudolf Serkin on his personal invitation and later studied with such legends as Claudio Arrau and Leon Fleischer in New York. They completed their master’s degree at the Juilliard School as well as at the Musikhochschule in Frankurt, graduating with honours. At the age of 18, the Pekinels shared first prize as soloists at the National Piano Competition in Germany, after which they went on to win several first prizes both as a duo and as separate soloists from various competitions in Germany, Italy and the United States, one of which was first prize at the UNESCO World Music Competition, where they were representing Germany.
The Pekinels’ international career truly launched upon an invitation to the 1984 Salzburg Festival by Herbert von Karajan, who sustained his support in the duo. Leonard Bernstein, Jacques Loussier, and Bob James have composed or arranged works specifically for the Pekinels, for which they hold worldwide rights. Güher and Süher Pekinel are named State Artists and are holders of honorary doctorate degrees from Boğaziçi University as well as holders of the 2013 Istanbul Culture and Arts Foundation “Honorary Award” for their lifetime achievements. Amongst many others, they also received the best social responsibility award for their “Young Musicians on World Stages” project in 2011.
Their extensive discography includes all the major works for piano duo, recorded under the world-renowned labels Deutsche Grammophon, CBS, Teldec, and Warner. As a result of their collaboration with world-renowned jazz musician Jacques Loussier and their CD “Take Bach”, featuring interpretations of Bach’s concertos for two and three pianos, was a world-wide bestseller and was released numerous times by Warner Classics. Shortly after the release of their concert CD with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra and Howard Griffiths in 2006, featuring recital programmes and works by Brahms and Saint-Saens, it was listed as Best Album of the Year by The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and Gramophone Magazine. In the 2006-2007 season, their entire CD range was re-released by Warner Classics. The Pekinels have appeared on numerous radio and TV shows and have been the subject of two 60-minute documentaries, the first of which was produced by the German ZDF channel and the second entitled “Double Life” was produced by ARD-Arte.
Highlights from their events include the Eurovision concert with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, broadcast live in 23 countries, an eight-city tour with the Israel Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta, a “Take Bach” European tour with the Jacques Loussier Trio, the Schwetzinger Festival concert broadcast live on television in collaboration with SWR and the BBC, two Radio France concerts to celebrate the Toulouse Orchestra’s 50th anniversary, concerts with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in the Munich Opera, a series of concerts with the London Mozart Players and the English Chamber Orchestra, including a tour with the orchestra in Spain and England, under the baton of Sir Colin Davis and the opening concert of the Lucerne Piano Festival.
The Güher & Süher Pekinel “Live in Concert” DVD, released by Arthaus Music in February 2010, features the 2007 New Year Concerts in Zurich and Lucerne, along with their other recent performances. Another critically acclaimed Arthaus Music release dated April 2011, the Bach Jazz DVD brought together their ECO concert under the baton of Sir Colin Davis and the duo and trio Bach-Jazz piano concertos with Jacques Loussier. Their third DVD, with Bartok’s Concerto, live recital recordings of Schubert, Mozart, Debussy and Infante will be released in the first half of 2014 by Unitel / Arthaus.
Celebrating the centurial first performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, Decca, in collaboration with DG and Philips, selected the work’s most important recordings between 1913 and today, including Stravinsky’s own outstanding performances and the Pekinels’ DG recording in 1984. The CD was released in December 2012.
Güher and Süher Pekinel have also pioneered three significant music education projects.
Their first project aims to further professional music education in Turkey to meet international standards. Entitled “Young Musicians on World Stages”, the project, sponsored by Turkish firm Koç / Tüpraş, supports twelve young musicians by granting them instruments and scholarships to study with distinguished musicians and pedagogues in Europe and to participate in international music competitions. Within three years, the scholars have been awarded six first prizes and three second prizes at international competitions.
Their second project was launched in 2007 by founding the G&S Pekinel Music Department in the private boarding school TEVITOL for gifted children from throughout Turkey. This scheme has achieved integration into the standard musical curriculum and is now accepted as credit at notable universities. The third project concentrates on Pekinels’ vision to establish the globally implemented Orff Schulwerk Method at kindergartens and primary schools in Turkey to raise the creativity, self-confidence, and analytical skills of children.
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