DUO Stephanie and Saar
DUO Stephanie and Saar
Stephanie Ho and Saar Ahuvia, pianists
Pianists Stephanie Ho and Saar Ahuvia collaborate as DUO Stephanie and Saar in dazzling performances filled with visceral excitement, elegance and artistic vision. “Stephanie and Saar’s last night’s performance once again recalled all the epithets of elegant and innovative, that have been following them throughout their career.” ~ Radio Sarajevo
Recent performances include an appearance at the Dranoff Two-Piano Foundation in Miami performing the complete two-piano music of Meredith Monk, the Brahms two piano sonata at Lewis & Clark College and the Kozeluch four-hand concerto with the Regensdorf Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland. The duo’s return appearance at the La Grua Center in CT featured the two Ravel concertos and Mother Goose Suite.
As probing recording artists, the duo explores repertoire with concomitant classical and contemporary sensibilities. Their recording of György Kurtág’s four hand transcription of Bach’s Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (Got’s Time is the Very Best of Times) was featured on the soundtrack of the documentary film Red Trees. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times praised their “beautifully understated performances” of Kurtág’s delicate and soulful Bach transcriptions at NYC’s (le) poisson rouge. Cavatine, released in 2021 features Beethoven’s Op. 130 String Quartet and Schubert’s F Minor Fantasie. Gramophone Magazine praises it as “majestic..a highly distinctive disc”. Beethoven Dialogues, their 2014 album featuring Beethoven Quartets Op. 18 Nos. 1, 4 and 6 in rarely heard four hand arrangements was chosen as Album of the Week on New York Public Radio WQXR. The duo’s 2017 recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Art of Fugue has garnered tremendous praise; Stephanie and Saar toured The Art of Fugue extensively with stops in Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, among others. “Their vision is of an Art of Fugue that is a work of performance art, not an academic piece to be listened to reverently… This is creative music- making of an extraordinarily high level.” ~ The Art Music Lounge
Other notable performances include Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at Lincoln Center and the Israel Conservatory in Tel Aviv. The duo collaborated with Michael Linville and the New World Symphony Percussion Consort in Linville’s own arrangement of Igor Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and André Boucourechliev’s aleatoric fantasy piece Archipel I. The duo takes special pride in a performance at the residence of the United States Ambassador in Berlin, Germany, featuring works by Henry Martin (US), Avner Dorman (Israel) and Felix Mendelssohn (Germany).
Multiple collaborations with the Dranoff Two Piano Foundation have featured Stephanie and Saar at the Adrienne Arsht Center jamming with DJ Cardi for Piano Slam 11, at the Coral Gables Art Cinema with a film-inspired program and at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts center, where the duo performed a jazz-inspired concert featuring the world premiere of Fantasia de Très Mundos by Cuban-American jazz pianist Martin Bejerano, Dranoff Two Piano Foundation’s 2014 Bacardi Choice Award winner. “Playing with fizzing technique and élan, the duo fused bravura and elegance in perfect measure.” ~ Lawrence Budmen, South Florida Classical Review
DUO Stephanie and Saar are the artistic directors of Makrokosmos Project, a music festival in Portland, Oregon dedicated to contemporary American music and performances by Oregon- based performers and composers. The 2015 inaugural festival featured standing-room performances of George Crumb’s Makrokosmos I & II and music by Kenji Bunch and David Crumb. Oregon Arts Watch frankly states “It was one of 2015’s peak Oregon musical moments.” The 2019 festival featured the complete piano music of Toru Takemitsu and music by John Luther Adams, Julia Wolfe and Gabriela Lena Frank.
While pursuing graduate studies at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Stephanie and Saar were inspired by Leon Fleisher to explore the Beethoven string quartets in a duo piano setting. Saar, a native of Israel, studied at Israel’s Tel Aviv Academy and Switzerland’s Schaufhausen Conservatory before coming to the United States to pursue a Graduate Performance Diploma with Leon Fleisher at Peabody Institute. Stephanie, of Taiwanese descent, grew up in Portland, Oregon before obtaining degrees from Oberlin College and Northwestern University. She received a Graduate Performance Diploma from Peabody Institute, under the direction of Julian Martin.
Stephanie and Saar, who are married to each other, reside in New York City. Outdoor enthusiasts, they recently completed an expedition to Alaska’s Denali backcountry and the Timberline Trail, the 44-mile trail circumventing Oregon’s Mount Hood. Visit them at www.stephsaarduo.com
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Three pieces for piano four-hands
Ludwig van Beethoven: Cavatine from String Quartet Op. 130
Maurice Ravel: Ma Mère L'Oye (Mother Goose Suite)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Three pieces for piano four hands
Manuel de Falla: Two Spanish Dances from La Vida Breve