November 14, 2015

Duets for Life


"I ask people to do duets," remarks Tomoko. Tomoko has played duets with her students, both as part of their lesson as well as for recitals. There are many fascinating four-hand piano compositions, which enrichen the students' musical background. And technically, duets help musicians listen more closely to the music, and sharpen their ability to coordinate with the other player.

As a performer, Tomoko has played in concerts with other professionals. Tomoko fondly remembers violinist Ernestine Riedel Chihuaria in that regard. They met in 1969 through the Peninsula Symphony. Ernestine needed an accompanist at the last minute, and Tomoko performed with her at the DeYoung Museum. They continued to perform together for thirty years. "I considered ourselves as a duo rather than having a performer-accompanist relationship," Tomoko asserts.

Duets were an early part of Tomoko's own playing. She first learned piano playing from her brother, and the two of them would practice on the family’s one piano. “Sometimes we played four-hand music,” Tomoko remembers. “We would switch parts when doing duets, which helped me understand symphonies with their many parts.” Tomoko’s brother later became a professional composer.

Keeping it in the family, at her tribute concert in 2013, Tomoko and her daughter Beata performed a piano duet, which was very touching. While Beata started playing the piano as a preschooler, her passion lay in ice skating. Tomoko was just as glad; "It's good not to have two professional pianists in the family," contends Tomoko.

However, Beata enjoyed doing duets on the ice.  By age 14, Beata was known for her affinity for ice dancing, even though she practiced without a partner. It took four years for her to find a right male ice dancing partner: Charles Sinek. The next year they married. "Our competitions were like a wedding; we were presented as a couple, we dance together, we had beautiful costumes, our guests were the audience, and there was a lot of planning just for one event," remembers Beata. 

Tomoko too has had a long duet with her husband: Desy. They met at a Hungarian ball, and married in 1975. He also is not a musician, like their daughter; Tomoko ways, "I never have to worry about him giving me his opinion about how I should practice or perform." But they complement each other well, as good duos do. It's the same skill: of listening and coordination.

No comments:

Post a Comment