It was January 2020 when I first learned of The Vieness Piano Duo. A home venue was hosting their concert. I was excited to go, only to be deterred by severe health issues that precluded my attending. To bring me good cheer while healing, I invited the duo to an interview for my school, Pastimes for a Lifetime, and have had the good fortune of becoming friends in music since. (It goes without saying, I’m ecstatic to finally attend their concert through The Athena Foundation for the Arts!)
For each Athena concert, we “break the ice”, introducing our award winning musicians to the audience. Before presenting this intimate interview with The Vieness Duo, a brief introduction is in order.
Firstly, you are likely wondering, who are The Vieness Piano Duo? Well, they are none other than award winning concert pianists, Eva Schaumkell and Vijay Venkatesh. Vieness is a combination of the first letters of their last names, V&S (Venkatesh and Schaumkell). They then spelled it to create their own word, Vieness, which would be the spelling phonetically.
Eva Schaumkell and Vijay Venkatesh have had solo careers since they were teens. They had been dating for a year before starting to play together professionally, and in that time they had been sight-reading duet music together. They found playing together fulfilling and decided to make their first recordings of two-piano music at Indiana University. It was a big hit with presenters and attracted attention for engagements, so they decided to expand their repertoire and establish a media and website presence. While Eva and Vijay still perform solo engagements and chamber music with larger ensembles, Vieness is something that they will keep up for life. Lucky us! And now it gives me great pleasure to share their interview with you.
LRW: Eva and Vijay, it is such a pleasure to catch up with you again. If you recall, my school, Pastimes for a Lifetime had the honor of hosting an interview with you a month before the Covid lockdown. We are honored to have you open The Athena Foundation for the Arts 2023 Spring Concert Series. For your Athena program, may I ask how you decided on the pieces curated for the concert? Why these composers? Why now?
E&V: We love to choose a program that works very well with the extent of one’s imagination. We want our audience to let their mind run wild and create their own interpretation. We want to combine some of our favorite pieces new and old with the addition of beautiful imagery and creating an immersive experience for the audience.
LRW: That’s so amazing – a classical concert that engages the audience’s imagination!
E&V: Yes. This program consists of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances, Schubert’s Fantasie, Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Saint-Saëns, and more. It is very eclectic and takes the audience on an emotional and immersive journey through these pieces that mean so much to us.
LRW: I’m ready to embark on that tour! Can you please hint at the beautiful imagery you’ve selected for your pieces and why they were chosen?
E&V: Many of the works we have programed invoke a feeling along with a concrete place.
LRW: How do you mean?
E&V: For example, the Hungarian Dances of Brahms conjure feelings of freedom, new ventures, new horizons, and unmistakable passion. Abstract works of art create feeling rather than meaning and work well within this aspect. Rather than telling our audience what they should be imagining or feeling, we want to invite listeners to explore for themselves what the music means to each of them individually.
LRW: That gives me goosebumps. Please go on.
E&V: On the flip side is the more programmatic part of the program such as the Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals, or Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze, in which we have selected gorgeous photographs to represent each animal or nature scene. Saint-Saens was very specific in musically imitating the animal sounds and characteristics in the Carnival, so seeing each animal in the wild represented alongside the music provides a humorous way to follow along with the theme.
LRW: I love this on so many levels. Can’t wait to experience this immersive concert. May I ask, do you happen to have plans to record these stunning duos and solos?
E&V: Many of the works have already been recorded on YouTube and for those not, they will be soon!
LRW: I’ve subscribed and look forward to watching new releases. Before I let you go, do each of you have a favorite quote by a composer or musician that you’d like to share with our readers?
E&V: “Practice like it means everything in the world to you. Perform like you don’t give a damn.” -Jascha Heifetz Click To Tweet
LRW: Perfect! I’m looking forward to sharing this with my piano students! 🙂
To learn more about these phenomenal musicians, please enjoy visiting their websites and social media platforms.
Eager to attend? Please see below.
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Check-in: 3:15 PM
Concert: 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM PDT
Church of Scn of the Valley
11455 Burbank Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 91601
•This concert is hosted exclusively by The Athena Foundation for the Arts.
•It is not a church event.
•The Community Auditorium is made available for rent to nonprofits and other charitable organizations. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us. Thank you.
FREE Parking: Farmdale Avenue lot and street parking
Purchase tickets on Eventbrite here or scan the QR code at the door. Cash or Credit card payments by Zettle/Paypal also available. Questions? Please feel free to email us. Looking forward to an inspiring concert!
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