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Key competition: Popejoy Hall features piano battle livestreamed from Germany

Paul Cibis and Andreas Kern will battle it out on their pianos during a livestream from Germany for Popejoy Hall. (Courtesy of Mathias Bothor)

Andreas Kern is once again at home in Berlin waiting for the world to open back up.

“It’s snowing and the same situation,” he says. “I can’t wait to get back onstage and perform.”

Kern is joined onstage by fellow pianist Paul Cibis for their show “Piano Battle.”

The pair of musicians have traveled the world for years with the show.

Its setup is simple – Cibis and Kern go head-to-head on twin grand pianos.

It is part classical concert, part tongue-in-cheek comedy.

Kern and Cibis perform contemporary interpretations of classical masterpieces while trying to outplay each other.

As the duel ensues, they fight to win over the audience with both their musical ability and hilarious stunts. The virtual battle on Sunday, April 25, will take place over 45 minutes before the audience votes to determine the champion. After their performance, the musicians will take questions from the audience.

The two artists, with distinct performance styles, offer vastly different interpretations by composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Debussy.

Kern and Cibis will perform live from Germany, and the show will be livestreamed for Popejoy Hall audiences.

Like many other performers, Kern’s main source of income dried up with the pandemic.

While it was challenging, Kern says there are always two sides of the coin.

“One side is not doing what you are used to,” he says. “On the other hand, you have time to reflect on what you did before, how busy you were and how stressful it all could be. I do miss being onstage in front of an audience, but I’ve had time to enjoy myself at home.”

Kern says that in the past year, he and Cibis have gotten together to perform a few shows where they are allowed.

“It’s strange when you don’t have the breadth of an audience,” he says. “With virtual shows, viewers can type in a response and we see it. That gives us a feeling that someone is there with us.”

Kern has won the last four online battles.

“Paul is very much into his corona depression, and he’s practicing less,” Kern says. “I practice quite a lot. I have colleagues, and they’ve lost their motivation to play. I make it a point to practice new pieces for about three hours a day. It’s more practice than when I was touring.”

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