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  • Catherin Bye

Anna Bahr and Maria Burna from Piano Duo “Vision” Return to Stage This Fall

© Rene Zeynalova

Anna Bahr is a pianist who captivates the audience with her unforgettable performances all over Europe. Her passionate style and technical perfection go together with a deep understanding of the musical sense of the piano work, making music going through from heart to heart. Anna successfully performed with Mittelsaechsische Symphony Orchestra, Erzgebirgische Symphony Orchestra, Elblandphilharmonie in Germany, with a Moravicy orchestra in the Olomouc Czech Republic as also Thuermer Pianoforte Hall, in Coselpalais Hall in Dresden, opened "Palais Sommer 2014“ festival, at "Schubertiaden", Scnackenburg, to name a few. For many years, Anna Bahr has been a member of the Residenz Orchestra of Zwinger in Dresden, Germany, and played an impressive number of concerts as a chamber music partner, always having standing ovations.

Maria Burna gives concerts throughout Germany and Europe as a soloist and a collaborative artist. Her regular concert activities take her to Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, and Russia. Being a brilliant soloist and chamber musician, Maria regularly performs as a collaborative pianist with August Piano Trio. A special highlight in 2015 was the performance of the premiere "The Festive Toccata" on the occasion of the 10th Semper Opera Ball under the direction of the German conductor and trumpeter Ludwig Gütler.

Maria Burna has received several awards for her outstanding achievements both as a pianist and composer. She is a prizewinner of multiple international competitions, including the Kabalevsky Festival and the Rachmaninov Competition in Moscow. She received the special prize for the best interpretation of contemporary work.

Since 2015 and to this day, Maria has worked annually at the renowned Schubertiaden Schnackenbung music festival, the international piano festival ClaviCologne, and the Palais Sommer in Dresden. Since the 2016/17 season, she has been an official artist of the "Young Masters of Classicism" and a scholarship holder of the LIOHT Foundation and the Kulturstiftung Historisches Bürgerhaus in Dresden.

Besides being an established performing artist of its kind, Maria is also finding success in the entrepreneurial realm, directing the MusikSalon Dresden, where she holds concerts with classical music and educational programs.

Thank you so much for joining us on our interview series. Can you share the backstory that led you to this career path?

Anna: I started piano playing at five years old. It brought me so much joy, and I was progressing very quickly. So at nine years old, I entered the special music school for talented children in my hometown, and at ten years old, I played my first big Concert with a Far East Orchestra; I think it was Mozart 21t Piano Concerto. After that, I participated in many piano competitions for young artists and had some success there. The music had already become a part of me, and I could not imagine going my further adult life without piano playing. So I decided to enter Gnessin Music Academy in Moscow. After my graduation, I continued my education already in Germany at High Music School Carl Maria von Weber in Dresden. During my studies, I actively participated in piano competitions: some I won and some I lost in the very first stages; what I find an essential experience to have as such, falling down stories are making me stronger and proving my love and passion for being a musician. I traveled worldwide making music, met many unique people, and still never regret choosing this career path.
Maria: My First piano steps my mother studied with me at home. At age 7, I entered a special music boarding school, where we lived full time, studied, and made music. I fondly remember my time at the boarding school because it was like Hogwarts. This school also had other faculties: the art department and classical dance. We were young musicians preparing for international competitions; then, I won first prizes in piano and composition. Although the life of a 7-year-old girl in a boarding school is not easy, my childhood was filled with music and creativity, 24/7—kind of like learning magic too. Judging by my current career - I knew! Then I moved to learn at a Music college in the larger city of Kazan. I studied for three years in Moscow and finally moved to Germany to study at Hochschule für Musik Dresden for My Bachelor's and Magister, where I met my colleague Anna.

Piano Duo “Vision” is such a brilliant project. Could you tell us a bit more about it? When was it established?

Anna: Piano Duo „Vision“was created in 2015 by playing our first concert in Dresden. We have been good friends for years and have many musical views in common, so there were no doubts the project would be successful. Chamber music was and is for both of us the way of communication, supporting and opening much Wonderfull music composed for piano playing fro four hands.
Maria: we immediately found each other in the musical field; at first, we played piano concertos by Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, and Rachmaninov - as a soloist and orchestra. Because when preparing for a concert with an orchestra, it is challenging to find a colleague who is responsible for the part of the orchestra and does it well. Not much later, it developed into a serious piano project of two bright personalities. As the jury told us of one competition: - «you are like one musician, playing «elbow to elbow.» I think that the time of our joint studies was reflected here long before the duet was founded.

In 2018 you won the Grand Prix at the 6th International Piano Competition "Citta San Dove di Piave" in Venice, Italy. Could you share more details and impressions about this?

Anna: It was a memorable event in our life. We met great people from all over the world, played for a beautiful audience, and enjoyed the hospitality of Italy so much. It is always important to get feedback on our professional level, and we are happy to be evaluated by prominent musicians so high.
Maria: yes, it was a tremendous musical impression. We were influenced not only by a professionally prepared program of many piano duets but also by the amazing atmosphere of Venice, the ancient center and the cradle of culture.

You are making a significant impact on the listener with your performances across the globe. How do you create your programs? What are your favorite pieces and why?

Anna: When choosing a program, we always base our decisions on feeling and musical experience. There are many fantastic but unknown piano works written for four hands, and we feel responsible for bringing them to the audience, sharing them, and making them „famous. “ These days, we are also focusing on including works of modern composers and live improvisation in our programs.
Maria: Yes, I completely agree with Anna. I will add that thanks to our extensive experience, and our programs are also drawn up in a dramatic direction. I mean, we think every detail works for the whole concept. Our duo feel the event's mood very well and prepared perfectly suitable programs, which we have heard many times from the interpreters.

Your playing captivates the listener and makes the musical experience unforgettable. Where do you find inspiration?

Anna: The biggest inspiration for me is our life: daily things we used to have to see in a special light, the power of nature and my family. My two little daughters are giving me strength. They are teaching me to see the world not judged but innocent. I try to put all those feelings and emotions into music sounds, creating very special but clear interpretations going to the listener's heart.
Maria: my inspiration is to perform on stage and have invisible contact with the public. I feel this atmosphere and am always in joyful anticipation before the concert and meeting with the public.

© Rene Zeynalova

You two are the people of enormous influence. Besides having successful performance careers, you also find inspiration in teaching, blogging, and entrepreneurship. How do you manage your time?

Anna: Nowadays, musicians are required to multitask. My recipe is to be able to set priorities correctly at the right moment combined with self-discipline.
Maria: My secret is simple - do it all. If you want more, do more. What motivates me even more, I am a simple girl from a village in Russia; my life wouldn't be so great if I didn't do a lot.

What would you advise young musicians regarding a music career today? Any lesson they should keep in mind to succeed?

Anna: I would suggest three things: work hard, be honest with yourself, and keep positive.
Maria: be true to yourself and dream big.

What is next for you music-wise? We would love you to share your upcoming performances and career plans.

Anna and Maria: This Fall we are planning our „coming back“ by giving a concert tour in several locations in Hamburg, Dresden and other German cities. Also, several concerts in Italy are planned. We are working on a recording of our first CD „Colors of the sky, “ and looking forward to releasing it in spring-summer 2023.

Thank you so much for sharing your musical journey with us. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

Anna and Maria: Thank You for having us!

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