Piano duo Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe promise audiences a "roller-coaster of emotions" at show

Greg Anderson on his strong chemistry with Elizabeth Joy Roe (both above). -- PHOTO: ISAAC HERNANDEZ
Greg Anderson on his strong chemistry with Elizabeth Joy Roe (both above). -- PHOTO: ISAAC HERNANDEZ

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe promise audiences a "roller-coaster of emotions" at their show

The first piece pianists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe played together as a duo was Johannes Brahms' Variations On A Theme By Haydn, Op. 56, at a school recital when they were 20-year-old students at the Juilliard School.

Twelve years on, the pair, now known as The Anderson & Roe Piano Duo, will be performing that same piece at their Flights Of Fantasy Concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall next Friday.

Anderson says in a telephone interview: "Brahms' Variations On A Theme is a very nostalgic piece for us because it was there from the very beginning."

He and Roe, both 32, met when they were freshmen during orientation at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York in 2000. They graduated at the same time, both earning a bachelor's in 2004 and a master's in Piano Performance in 2006.

Known for their exhilarating performances and original four-hand transcriptions, the pair have been described as "Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers transposed from the dance floor to the keyboard" and "the intense synchronisation of genius" by the international press.

Their second album, When Words Fade, spent nearly a dozen weeks at the top of the Billboard Classical Charts in 2011.

They have produced three albums so far, the most recent being An Amadeus Affair, which was released in February.

Besides their albums, they are also known for their whimsical music videos, which they produce themselves. Their videos have been viewed by millions on YouTube and received Emmy nominations.

The duo's creativity evidently spans no boundaries. In the final instalment of their 10-part film project The Rite Of Spring, released early this year, they set a 135-year-old organ on fire while performing on it.

"Through our wild and exciting music videos, we hope to energise young audiences and draw them into the world of classical music," says Anderson, adding that they are inspired by film-makers such as Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Jonze and Lee Ang.

If not for that serendipitous first recital at Juilliard, Anderson and Roe's partnership might never have come to be.

Roe, a Korean-American, says neither of them had aspirations to set up a piano duo. They experienced an epiphany only after the performance, realising that they could actually turn playing together into a career.

She says: "The desire to continue doing this together arose from our chemistry and our shared values for music as well as artistic expression."

Anderson agrees and adds: "We share the same mission to make classical music a relevant and powerful force in society. This mission, alongside the friendship we have, is what has held us together as a duo for so long."

And indeed, with their powerful chemistry, do fans ever think they are a couple?

"All the time," Roe says with a laugh, adding that this is one of the most popular questions thrown at them on tour. She declines to reveal her marital status.

Anderson, who is married with no children, says their close friendship allows them to be comfortable performing together on stage.

He says: "We can be a pair of lovers or dancers, or mortal enemies duelling each another or just mere friends joyously exchanging a musical conversation."

This is their second visit here. They played at the Esplanade Concert Hall two years ago.

Anderson says audiences at their concert next Friday can expect "a roller-coaster of emotions" as they will be playing "some extraordinary music".

They will be performing classical and pop favourites, including a re-interpretation of Saint-Saens' The Swan, Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight Of The Bumblebee and rock band Radiohead's Paranoid Android.

The duo have fond memories of their last concert here and are hoping to recreate the same electric atmosphere.

Roe recalls: "The audience was incredibly attentive, respectful and enthusiastic. The whole experience was just wonderful for us and we are thrilled to be here again."

paigelim@sph.com.sg