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Chicago Duo Piano Festival Celebrates 36 Years

July 7-14, 2024

Chicago Duo Piano Festival Mini-Fest

The Music Institute of Chicago presents the 36th year of the Chicago Duo Piano Festival beginning July 7 and running through July 14. The festival features four public concerts and a master class.

Public Events Schedule

All events take place at:
Nichols Concert Hall
1490 Chicago Avenue, Evanston

General Admission: $30; Seniors & Students: $15
Chicago Duo Piano Festival participants and MIC students: free

Sunday, July 7 at 3 PM
Gala Opening Concert: Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem

Claire Aebersold and Ralph NeiweemFestival Co-Founders and Music Institute Piano Duo in Residence Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem kick off the Festival with Liszt’s Don Juan Fantasy and other works for four hands by Mozart, Schubert, Debussy, and Ravel.

Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem are among the most accomplished and acclaimed piano duos of their generation. Described as“consummate practitioners of pianism” (The Washington Post) they met in Italy in 1970 as young solo performers at a music festival in Umbria, were married in 1973 and have devoted themselves to the exclusive study of the duo repertoire since 1981. In 2020, Aebersold and Neiweem were awarded the inaugural career achievement award in Piano Duo by the Josef and Rosina Lhévinne Legacy Foundation. The duo are founders and directors of the NEA award-winning Chicago Duo Piano Festival, held annually at the Music Institute of Chicago and the Chicago International Duo Piano Competition.

They have appeared with orchestras internationally, including the Chicago Philharmonic and the Vienna Tonkünstler, and performed in recitals throughout the U.S. and Europe. They have commissioned significant new works for the piano duo, including pieces by Joseph Turrin and Patrick Byers. The duo’s CDs on the Summit label include Four Hand Reflections and music of Brahms and Schubert.

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Tuesday, July 9 at 7 PM
Faculty Extravaganza

Duo Piano at Nichols Concert HallMembers of the Music Institute piano faculty perform a mixed program of works for piano duo. Performers include Inah Chiu, Sung Hoon Mo, Elaine Felder, Milana Pavchinskaya, Xiaomin Liang, Jue He, Katherine Petersen, Mark George, Ralph Neiweem, Alexander Djordjevic, Claire Aebersold, Matthew Hagle and Mio Isoda-Hagle.



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Friday, July 12 at 7 PM
Guest Duo Concert: Varshavski-Shapiro Piano Duo

Vershavski-ShapiroThis acclaimed duo—Stanislava Varshavski and Diana Shapiro—have earned top prizes at numerous competitions and performed in venues and with distinguished orchestras around the world. The program includes Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos.

The Varshavski-Shapiro Piano Duo began playing together in 1998. Since then, they have gone on to capture the top prizes at numerous competitions, including the most prestigious competition for piano duos – the Murray Dranoff International Piano Competition in Miami. A winner of the Astral Artists’ 2012 National Auditions, the Varshavski-Shapiro Piano Duo also won first prizes at the Italy’s XV Piano Competition “Rome 2004,” the Jerusalem’s Kol HaMusica Young Artists Competition, the Israel Chamber Music Competition, the XIII Schubert Competition in the Czech Republic, and the First International Piano Duo Competition in Bialystok, Poland.

The Varshavski-Shapiro Piano Duo has performed in such distinguished venues as the HKAPA Concert Hall in Hong Kong, Henry Crown Symphony Hall in Jerusalem, Teatro Valle in Rome, and Lincoln Theater in Miami. They have appeared with the Radio Orchestra in Munich, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Miami’s New World Symphony. Outside of their current home base in Wisconsin and Illinois, the duo has recently given concerts in across the U.S.

Both Varshavski and Shapiro hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, where they studied with a legendary Israeli duo Alexander Tamir–Bracha Eden. They continued their education under renowned American pianist Victor Rosenbaum, and in 2011 both pianists completed Doctoral degree studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ms. Shapiro is an Assistant Professor of Piano and a Chair of the Music Department at the Silver Lake College and Ms. Varshavski is a Director of Education at the Holy Family Conservatory of Music.

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Vershavski-Shapiro Master ClassSaturday, July 13 at 10 AM
Guest Duo Master Class: Varshavski-Shapiro Piano Duo

Free and open to the public.



MIC Chicago Duo Piano Festival participantsSunday, July 14 at 2 PM
Final Student Concert


Free and open to the public.




About the Chicago Duo Piano Festival

Called a “duo piano mecca” by Pioneer Press, the world-renowned Chicago Duo Piano Festival was founded in 1988 by Music Institute of Chicago faculty members and Piano Duo in Residence Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem. Its mission is to foster a deeper interest in the repertoire, performance, and teaching of music for piano, four hands and two pianos, in a fun and supportive atmosphere. The Festival offers summer and winter events, which include coachings, master classes, concerts with special guest artists, and student recitals for students youth through adult. In addition, the festival organizes periodic duo piano competitions that draw young professionals from around the world.