Irina & Jullia Elkina
Twin sisters Irina and Julia Elkina have been playing piano since they were five years old. Natives of Russia, they both received degrees from the St. Petersburg Conservatory . In 1992, they won the Italian Citta di Marsala Competition while living in Russia. The sisters decided to move to the U.S. in 1993, after Russian authorities, for anti-Semitic reasons, forced the Elkinas to cancel a concert in St. Petersburg. That same year, they won the Dranoff Competition along with the special award for best performance of the commissioned work – Taschyag by Paul Schoenfield.
The Elkinas’ engagements included multiple orchestral appearances with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, sixteen performances at Lincoln Center in New York, playing Stravinsky’s Petrushka in a live theater and music collaboration with performance artist Basil Twist and nine puppeteers. Frequent guests on National Public Radio, she has performed on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor several times, as well as on the nationally syndicated Saint Paul Sunday music program.
Today, they both are on the keyboard faculty of the Macphail Center for Music in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they live with their families.
Ishikawa & Kratzer
Noriko Ishikawa was born in Mooka, Japan and Manfred Kratzer is a native of Lahr, in Germany. After attending university in Japan, Noriko continued her studies at the Karlsruhe Musikhochschule, where the duo met. Noriko also studied with Hans-Peter Stenzl, himself a former Dranoff competition winner.
In 2006, they co-directed The First International Piano Festival in Taiwan, together with Sontraud Speidel, from Karlsruhe Music College, where they had began their musical career.
The duo studied with Arie Vardi at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Hannover and with Jean- Eudes Vaillancourt at the Université de Montréal. They won the International Chamber Music Competition in Caltanissetta, Italy, and the Dranoff Competition. In 1993 they joined the young artists’ roster of Yehudi Menuhin-Live Music Now.
The Bergmann Piano Duo’s recitals and concerts with orchestra have taken them to many parts of the world, including the United States, Italy, Germany, Holland, Greece and Canada.
They have recorded for the CBC, for the ARD in Germany and for National Public Radio in the USA. The duo has recorded CDs on the CordAria, Arktos, Brilliant Classics and Naxos labels..
As founding members of the International Piano Quartet they, together with Maarten and Jeroen Van Veen, recorded Stravinsky’s Les Noces under the direction of Robert Craft at the Abbey Road Studios in London. The CD is available on Naxos, as is their complete works for two pianos by William Bolcom. Their latest two releases feature Marcel’s arrangement for 4 pianos of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and a collection of minimal music for multiple pianos.
Committed to supporting the production of new repertoire, the duo has commissioned and premiered several works by Canadian composers such as Allan Gordon Bell and John Abram. Their extensive repertoire ranges from the baroque to the contemporary and includes numerous own arrangements and compositions.
In addition to their performing careers they teach and work in other capacities in the music industry. Marcel is currently Professor of Music at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario and Elizabeth is Director of Concerts and Summer Programmes at Langley Community Music School.