New Jersey Stage logo
New Jersey Stage Menu


Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center


By Spotlight Central, Photos by Love Imagery

originally published: 05/01/2023

Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Devotees of classical music inside Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts this Sunday, April 23, 2023 evening eagerly await the start of a live performance by the musical duo, Piano Battle. Comprised of internationally-accomplished pianists Paul Cibis and Andreas Kern, the musicians — who each hail from Berlin, Germany — travel the world putting on music and comedy concerts where they go head-to-head on stage for audience approval with a performance that is part serious classical recital and part tongue-in-cheek comedy performance.

The lights dim and Paul, in black, and Andreas, in white, enter the stage and take seats behind facing grand pianos located in the rear of the stage. Following the expert playing of an introductory piece, the musicians welcome the crowd.

Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center

“Good afternoon!” exclaims Andreas, who informs the audience that he’s been “playing piano since the age of eight.” After Paul — who has played just as long — jokes that he’s insured his hands for “a million,” Andreas challenges Paul in today’s first round of competition to “play something dramatic.”

With talent and skill, Paul deftly performs “Étude Op. 10, No. 12,” a solo piece by Chopin featuring swift runs which generate cheers and applause from the crowd.

Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Andreas counters with a sensitive performance of Scriabin’s “Étude Op. 8, No. 12,” played with mystery and style. Concertgoers vote for their Round 1 favorite by holding up either the black or white side of a Piano Battle voting card distributed to audience members before the concert.



 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info



Based on the crowd’s response, Round 1 goes to Paul, in black. The audience chuckles when, in reaction, Andreas takes a roll of tape and uses it to create a faux “finish line” near the edge of the stage.

Paul suggests that for Round 2, the musicians play “something nice and beautiful, with melodic qualities.” Andreas plays “Impromptu Op. 90, No. 3,” a sweet and gentle piece by Schubert, which features complex rhythms and trills to avid audience applause. Paul follows up with the lovely melody of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” which he performs expressively with dynamics and feeling.

The audience, yet again, chooses Paul as the winner, after which Paul physically moves his grand piano closer to the taped finish line located at the front of the stage.

In Round 3, Paul nimbly performs György Ligeti’s “Musica ricercata No. 1,” a rhythmic piece from 1951, which accelerates faster and faster as it increases in intensity. Andreas counters with Moritz Eggert’s “One Man Band,” a composition from 1994 on which he uses his hands to tap rhythms on top of and underneath his piano. Adding chords with his hands and, then, with his chin, Andreas ultimately impresses the astonished crowd by playing with his bare foot at times.

Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center

The audience reacts with whistles and applause and Andreas is declared the winner of Round 3.

After moving his grand piano closer to the finish line, Andreas explains that the next challenge will be an unusual game of musical ping pong. Each musician selects two volunteers from the audience to be on his team. As each musician plays the piano with one hand, he uses the other hand to swat ping pong balls fed by one of the volunteers into his opponent’s instrument while the second volunteer collects the swatted balls from inside each piano and drops them into a collection tube.

Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center

The absurdity of the game brings giggles from the audience and cheers as Paul’s tube is filled nearly to the top, making him the winner of Round 4. Andreas reacts to Paul’s victory by playing the piano fast and furiously. Paul responds with his own piano piece as shadows on the wall behind the pair make it appear as if the two musicians are playing the same instrument.

Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center



 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info



For Round 5, Andreas plays a personal piece, “For Sari,” a lovely composition which he created for his girlfriend. Paul responds with “Ballare al Suona del Pianoforte,” a sweet and cascading rolling melody filled with trills and thrills which was written especially for him by the Taiwanese composer, Kai-nan Huang.

For this round of voting, the musicians select a random woman from the crowd to examine the audience’s voting cards and determine who won this challenge. After she announces Paul as the victor, he responds by offering to play a “special Mozart piece” for her. Andreas, however, argues that he “will play for everyone!” and, as such, asks audience members to shout out the names of their favorite composers and musicians.

Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center

Members of the crowd offer up such suggestions as “Gershwin,” “Ravel,” and “Billy Joel,” and Andreas and Paul take seats behind their instruments to create a clever mash-up of selections featuring snippets of pieces like “Summertime,” “Bolero,” and “Piano Man.” Based on his showy piano performance, Andreas wins Round 5, and the pair completes the evening’s series of challenges by simultaneously playing excerpts of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” blindfolded to avid cheers and applause.

When Andreas is declared the winner of Round 6, he celebrates by singing what he calls “a traditional German song” — Don McLean’s “American Pie” — which has the audience happily joining in singing on the number’s “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie/Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry” refrain.

After thanking all of the music lovers on their feet applauding for the talented pair, Andreas and Paul perform an encore consisting of an ingenious mash-up of Dvořák’s “New World Symphony” and Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” to enthusiastic audience cheers and applause.

Piano Battle LIVE! at the Grunin Center

To learn more about Piano Battle, please go to pianobattle.com. For info about upcoming performances at Toms River’s Grunin Center for the Arts — including singer/songwriter Dayna Kurtz on May 20, Chris Pinella performing the music of Billy Joel and Elton John on June 2, and The Great Rock ‘n Roll Time Machine on June 23 — please click on grunincenter.org.

Photos by Love Imagery

Spotlight Central. Your source for Jersey entertainment news and reviews

Love Imagery Fine Art Photography. all you need. peace/love/flower/power



 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info




FEATURED EVENTS

ART | COMEDY | DANCE | MUSIC | THEATRE | COMMUNITY


Richard Shindell

Wednesday, February 21, 2024 @ 7:30pm
Lizzie Rose Music Room
217 E. Main Street, Tuckerton, NJ 08087
category: music

Click here for full description


Lee Brice: Me & My Guitar

Thursday, February 22, 2024 @ 8:00pm
State Theatre New Jersey
15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: music

Click here for full description


The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Friday, February 23, 2024 @ 8:00pm
Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC)
100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
category: music

Click here for full description


Click here for more events

Listings are available for $10 and included with our banner ad packages.

Click here for more info.








 

LATEST NEWS


New Jersey Symphony Presents Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony

(NEWARK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Symphony will present Tchaikovsky's beloved Fifth Symphony, conducted by Xian Zhang, in three March performances, Thursday, March 14, 2024 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark (1:30pm); Friday, March 15, 2024 at Richardson Auditorium in Princeton (8:00pm); and Sunday, March 17, 2024 at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown (3:00pm).


Westminster Conservatory Faculty Recital Series to present two free children's concerts on Sunday




Woodbridge Township presents Screaming Orphans at The Avenel Performing Arts Center




Danú Takes Audience to Ireland on March 10th


Click here for more event previews







New Jersey Stage

© 2024 by Wine Time Media, LLC
PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762
info@newjerseystage.com

Nobody covers the Arts
throughout the Garden State
like New Jersey Stage!


Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms. If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and on our RSS feed


Art | Comedy | Dance | Film | Music | Theatre | Ad Rates | About Us | Pitch a Story | Links | Radio Shows | Privacy Policy