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November 12, 2009

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Playing Gershwin with 4 grand pianos, 8 hands, 40 fingers

THE Gershwin Piano Quartet offers a new and vivid listening experience as four grand pianos and eight hands play, rearrange and improvise on legendary works by maestro George Gershwin such as "Rhapsody in Blue," "An American in Paris" and "Summertime."

The quartet, which has played worldwide, will perform on November 28 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center's Concert Hall.

Their Shanghai concert is a very different take on the American master's songs and orchestral works, as well as those of Igor Stravinsky ("Petrushka") and Maurice Ravel ("La Valse").

The quartet of Swiss musicians cross-references the old world and the new, classical music and jazz, ballet and Broadway theater and creates a lively and highly virtuosic concert.

They are award-winning and versatile, having performed with distinguished orchestras and innovative theaters and committed to both contemporary and classical music.

The quartet was founded by pianist Andre Desponds in 1996. In addition to Desponds, the other performers are Stefan Wirth, Benjamin Engeli and Mischa Cheung.

"Though each performer has his own characteristics, one should praise the ensemble work that goes beyond any individual taste and sounds like a true community of souls," said Sao Paul's Jornal da Tarde.

"Gershwin appears in new, colorful and, at times, magical guises," wrote the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, a major German-language Swiss daily newspaper based in Zurich.

Date: November 28, 7:30pm

Address: 425 Dingxiang Rd, Pudong

Tickets: 80-380 yuan

Tel: 6854-1234 The musicians Andre Desponds

Born in 1958, Desponds is equally at home with a Bach fugue, a Chopin ballade or Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm."

At the age of 16, he became a student of Sava Savoff at the Music School of Zurich, Switzerland. He has been awarded numerous prizes in national competitions.

He is a professor of improvisation and chamber music at the Zurcher Hochschule der Kunste (Zurich University of the Arts).

Desponds has been a jazz improviser, silent film accompanist and composer for theater and film.

His projects include "L'Homme Orchestre" with the Clown Dimitri at the Lucerne Festival and "Zal," a performance about the life of Fredric Chopin combining music, dance and theater.

Stefan Wirth

Born in 1975, Wirth is one of the most versatile Swiss musicians of his generation. He has performed as a soloist with the Czech Chamber Orchestra, the Bernese Chamber Orchestra and the Malaysian National Philharmonic Orchestra, among others; he has also accompanied vocalists.

Wirth is dedicated to contemporary music, both as a composer and as a performer with the Collegium Novum in Zurich and the Ensemble Contrechamps in Geneva.

He has worked in theater with distinguished directors, as composer, arranger and performer.

Benjamin Engeli

Born in 1978, Engeli was interested from an early age in many instruments and began formal piano studies when he was 15 with Adrian Oetiker up to his graduation from the Music Academy of Basel.

Engeli also studied the horn at the Music Academy of Lucerne. In 2000 he enrolled in the Musikhochschule Zurich (Zurich College of Music) studying with Homero Francesch and graduated with a soloist's diploma in 2003.

As a winner of many competitions, Engeli has performed around the world.

He is also dedicated to chamber music, chiefly as a member of the Tecchler Trio, founded in 2003.

Mischa Cheung

Born in 1984 of Swiss-Chinese parentage, Cheung is the youngest member of the quartet and started learning the piano with his father.

Since high school, he has studied at the Zurcher Hochschule der Kunste (Zurich University of the Arts) with the renowned pianist Konstantin Scherbakov. His repertoire ranges from classical music to improvisation and jazz.


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