Duo-piano teams from throughout the country will converge upon the Converse campus this Saturday to compete in the Ellis Competition for Duo-Pianists. Sponsored by the National Federation of Music Clubs, the bi-annual Ellis Competition is the only recognized American duo-piano competition supported by a national music organization.
The competition will be held in Converse’s Daniel Recital Hall Saturday, March 28, at 8:30 a.m. Teams will be competing for a $10,000 prize and the opportunity to receive professional representation by the NFMC for two years. The winners will be announced at 2:30 p.m. There is no admission charge, and the public is invited to attend.
“The Ellis was our first national competition win and it gave us the confidence to enter international competitions,” said Sara Hamann, one-half of the Michigan-based duo Hamann Sisters who won the top prize in 1999. “It was our first big ‘break’ and gave us a great deal of performing experience. It helped us learn how to deal with performance anxiety in the most positive and productive manner. The repertoire and memorization requirements rank as the most challenging in the Ellis. Because of these requirements, competing teams have to be dedicated, serious duo-pianists.”
For the Hamanns, the Ellis Competition was the springboard for an incredible career that includes performing as featured artists with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at the Chautauqua Institution, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, the Oslo International Music Festival, the Quebec International Duo-Piano Festival, as well as the Reding-Piette Two-Piano Festival in Switzerland. In addition, the sisters were the guest artists for the season opening concerts of the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, the Rochester Symphony Orchestra and the Colonial Chamber Series in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Frequently, Amy and Sara’s performances have been broadcast on national and international television and radio, including NPR’s “Performance Today” and “Studio 360.”
Other past-winners of the Ellis Competition include Pas de Duo of San Francisco, California; the Roo Duo of Missouri; and the Long Duo of Taiwan.
Two local music clubs, the Spartanburg Philharmonic and the Music Club of Spartanburg, provide support in the form of hospitality and transportation. Mrs. Kenneth Cribb of Spartanburg is chair of the Auditions Committee.
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.