The Roo Duo piano team were the big winners in the 2003 Ellis Competition for Duo Pianists held on March 29 on the campus of Converse College. In addition to earning first-place honors, the Kansas City, Mo. duo earned the Abild American Music Award for the best performance of American music. The first place prize carries a $10,000 cash award as well as the promotional booking services of the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC), which sponsored the event. The Roo Duo earned a $500 cash award for the Abild Award.
The bi-annual Ellis Competition is the only recognized American duo-competition sponsored by a national music organization, and attracts piano teams from throughout the U.S.
The Roo Duo, comprised of Janet Fetterman and Nathan Smith, was formed in 2002 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. As winners of the Ellis Competition, they will perform the world premier of Benjamin Lees’ “Tableau for Duo Piano” at the NFMC convention in Nashville, Tenn. on August 9.
Ridgewood, N.J. sisters Susan and Sarah Wang earned second-place honors and a $5,000 cash award. The 19-year-old twin sisters have won numerous awards, including the 2000 Murray Dranoff Young Artists International Two Piano Competition. In 2001, they received the Valerie B. Schwarz Grant, which is presented by Charlotte White through her Salon de Virtuosi program. The Wangs are also recipients of numerous merit scholarship awards at the University of Michigan.
The Ellis Duo-Piano Competition was made possible originally by a legacy left by Annie Lou Ellis of Birmingham, Ala., friend and benefactor of the National Federation of Music Club.