Güher & Süher Pekinel

The Güher-Süher Pekinel Piano Duo attracts exceptional attention in the international music scene for and beyond their leading position amongst the artists of our day. Their orchestral engagements include performances with such distinguished orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonia, Israel Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra National de France, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Tokyo Philharmonic, and Leipzig Gewandhaus and with internationally renowned conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Chailly, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Neville Marriner, Paavo Jaervi, Marek Janowski, and Michel Plasson. Their extensive recital tours spanning the major music halls of Europe, Far East, Japan, and the United States have received wide critical acclaim for their extraordinary poetical musicality, pianistic perfection with genuine style and interpretation. The Pekinels are the only duo in the world who sit back to back and play without any eye contact in order to concentrate on their own personal “breath of musical momentum”.

They first appeared in public at the age of six and made their orchestral debut three years later with the Ankara Philharmonic in a live radio performance. After graduating from the Conservatoire de Paris and Musikhochschule in Frankurt, they pursued their studies at the Philadelphia Curtis Institute of Music with the great pianist Rudolf Serkin on his personal invitation and later studied with such legends as Claudio Arrau and Leon Fleischer in New York. They completed their master degree at the Julliard School, graduating in 1978 with honours. The Pekinels won the first prize at the UNESCO World Music Competition, where they were competing for Germany, and they hold first prizes both as a duo and as separate soloists from various competitions in Germany, Italy and the United States. The Pekinels’ international career truly launched upon an invitation to the 1984 Salzburg Festival by Herbert von Karajan, who sustained his support in the duo. Leonard Bernstein, Jacques Loussier, and Bob James have composed or arranged works specifically for the Pekinels. Güher and Süher Pekinel are named State Artists and are holders of honorary doctorate degrees from the Boğaziçi University. They won the best social responsibility award for their Young Musicians on World Stage project in 2011. Their extensive discography includes all the major works for piano duo, recorded under the labels of Deutsche Grammophon, CBS, Teldec, and Warner. Amongst others, their West Side Story, arranged by Leonard Bernstein himself, was chosen as the Album of the Year and their best-seller jazz project with Jacques Loussier, Take Bach won prestigious awards. Their latest albums released by Warner Classics - one featuring Bach’s concertos for two and three pianos and the other works by Brahms and Saint-Saens - were listed amongst the Best Albums of the Year by the Daily Telegraph, Guardian, and the Gramophone Magazine. The Pekinels have appeared on numerous radio and TV shows and have been the subject of two documentaries, the first of which was produced by the German ZDF channel and the second entitled “Double Life” was produced by ARD-Arte and has been broadcasted recurrently on global TV networks through UNITEL, which has acquired the broadcasting rights since then. Highlights from recent events include the live-broadcasted Eurovision concert with the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta as well as an eight-city tour with the Maestro and this time with the Israel Philharmonic, and concerts with the Munich Opera Orchestra. Their Schwetzinger Festival concert with the Jacques Loussier Trio as part of a European tour was another live broadcasted event. They also played with the Orchestre National du Capitol de Toulouse, conducted by Michel Plasson, for Radio France to celebrate the orchestra’s 50th anniversary; toured England and Spain with both the English Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Sir Colin Davis and the London Mozart Players; and gave the opening concert of the Lucerne Piano Festival. The Güher & Süher Pekinel Live in Concert DVD, released by Arthaus Music in February 2010, features the 2007 New Year Concerts in Zurich and Lucerne, along with their other recent performances. Another critically acclaimed Arthaus Music release dated April 2011, the Bach Jazz DVD brought together their ECO concert under the baton of Sir Colin Davis and the duo and trio Bach-Jazz piano concertos with Jacques Loussier. Their third DVD, with the Bartok, Bach, and Saint-Saens piano concertos and some live recital recordings, is due 2013. Güher and Süher Pekinel have also pioneered three significant music education projects. Their first project was launched in 2007 by founding the G&S Pekinel Music Department in the private boarding school TEVITOL for gifted children from throughout Turkey.

This pilot scheme, which aimed to re-integrate music education in the school curriculum, proved to be a great success in the past six years and is now ready to be applied nationwide. Pekinels’ second project aims to further professional music education in Turkey to meet international standards. Entitled “Young Musicians on World Stage”, this project sponsored by Onduline Eurasia supports nine young musicians by granting them instruments and scholarships to study with distinguished musicians and pedagogues in Europe and to participate in international music competitions.

The grantees have already won six first prizes in the two years that the project has been running. The third project concentrates on Pekinels’ vision to establish the globally implemented Orff Schulwerk Project at kindergartens and primary schools in Turkey to raise the creativity, self-confidence, and analytical skills of children.