Queenz of Piano makes classical concert fun
Chosen for the German award “Thüringer Kleinkunstpreis” in 2015 for their “musical, acrobatically unique work of arts,” the Queenz of Piano demonstrates that it is possible to have a lot of fun in a classical concert whilst simultaneously traversing the border between classical and pop music played on two grand pianos.
Now they are getting ready to meet with their listeners in Antalya tomorrow as part of the 21st Antalya International Piano Festival.
The band, made up of Jennifer Rüth and Ming, plays classical music, pop, rock and film soundtracks in a fiery, silent, groovy, charming and especially magic way. Using their grand pianos as percussion instruments plucking strings, they create sounds that remind us of a wash board, a guitar, a zither, a bouzouki, a bongo drum or a Japanese koto.
The new program of the Queenz of Piano shows how nice it is not to be perfect. The artists’ playing different music instruments creates a revolution in the world of music. You can listen to a harmonizing quodlibet between Beethoven’s “The Ode to Joy” and “Happy” by Pharell Williams. They show how Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” would sound, if Kurt Cobain was a buddy of Johann Sebastian Bach and what cool effects the influence of Ragtime has on Mozart’s “Turkish March.”
It is a fantastic show for people who love music and humor. Their music is not just for lovers of classical music but also of modern pop music. Ahead of their show tomorrow, the band answered some questions.
People love the songs that you interpret as much as the originals. What makes you different than the other musicians?
We believe that classical music rocks as much as pop music. Johann Sebastian Bach has as much groove and rhythmic energy as AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” In our show we combine this virtuosity and depth of classical music with the atmosphere of a pop concert to break the boundaries between Bach and Beats on two grand pianos. It is also part of our musical language to compose by ourselves. So, it just came naturally to integrate original songs to our program. We integrate innovative ways of playing the piano like plucking and bowing the strings in order to get creative sounds out of the piano and to imitate instruments like drums and guitars.
What genre and song do you think reflects your musical identity? How do you choose the songs that you want to interpret?
We choose the songs very differently. Sometimes we hear a song in the radio and if we like it both we arrange it for two pianos. And sometimes we are looking for classical pieces that have the same harmonic structure as pop songs and so could be easily combined. We also listen and danced to pop music as normal teenagers do. I (Jenny) studied Jazz singing and played in jazz bands. Ming played electronic guitar in a punk band. In our program we combine these different musical genres, which is our identity.
Classical music has strict rules. What kind of reactions do you get from the classical musicians regarding your show?
Luckily so far only positive reactions, also from the strict classical musicians. Or maybe they just didn’t tell us.
What does the word “perfect” mean to you?
Everything and nothing at the same time. As classically trained pianists we are educated to play perfectly without any mistakes. And, therefore, we practice and rehearse a lot. But we made the experience, that if on stage some spontaneous and not “perfect” or planned situations happen, this brings the chance to create special and very funny moments with the audience especially when they see that we struggle with the situation and try to make the best out of it. And that is what makes a concert unique sometimes without being perfect.
Are there any difficulties in maintaining your musical life as a group? Do you have any interesting moments when you play on the stage together?
Of course, I think COVID is a challenge for every musical group. Normally we play around 70 concerts a year. During the last two years we really missed it a lot playing together regularly on stage, spending time together on tour. We love to travel to different countries together. That´s why the festival in Antalya is going to close the year 2021 as a highlight. What a luck!
How about Turkish music, melodies? Are you familiar with Turkish music?
Some years ago, Tarkan, with his song “Şıkıdım,” was very popular in Germany. We loved this song. In our concert we also play lullabies from over the world. And of course, in Antalya we are going to play a famous Turkish lullaby.
Do you have a new release? or Is there any upcoming project?
We always work on new repertoire and do arrangements. At the moment we are working on a Christmas show and we are also planning to release a new CD with Christmas repertoire.
Could you please give us more detail about your Antalya concert? How would your repertoire be?
Besides arrangements of pop songs like Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of you” we do combinations between different musical genres mostly between classical music and pop music. You can listen to a harmonizing quodlibet between Beethoven’s “The Ode to Joy” and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. We show how Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” would sound, if Kurt Cobain was a buddy of Johann Sebastian Bach and what cool effects the influence of Ragtime has on Mozart’s “Turkish March”. We also sing in our concerts and have a lot of interaction with the audience. We just love to move people with music.