“As pianists growing up in South Africa, Steinway has always represented a magical world of beauty and wonder. Sitting down to play a Steinway immediately transported us from our surroundings, to the finest concert halls of Europe and the USA. With a touch, Steinway shaped our hopes and dreams, and made it feel like the impossible could be reached. Steinway is part of our history, our present, and our past.”
Steinway Ensemble, The Westhuizen Duo, have been hailed for performances described as “…music-making that rewards you seventy times seven.” They have been praised by audiences and critics alike for their “…excellent sensitivity for each other,” combined with playing that is “…charming, lyrical, and brilliant…” (Volksblad, South Africa). They were described as "...splendid additions to Cleveland's music scene" (Cleveland Plain Dealer) after their debut performance in this city.
The duo has appeared in major festivals and venues throughout the USA, and has presented concerts in all the major concert halls of South Africa. South Africans Pierre and Sophié completed their studies at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. Here they studied with renowned professor Frank Weinstock, as well as the legendary piano duo Eugene and Elizabeth Pridonoff. They were the first piano-duo to be accepted into the prestigious PianoTexas International Academy and Festival (formerly known as the TCU/Cliburn Institute), where they received masterclasses from Harold Martina, John Owings, Jan Jiraceck and the legendary Janos Starker.
In the summer of 2007 they were the first duo to be featured as Shouse Artists at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in Michigan where they shared the stage with artists such as Ann Schein, Jeremy Denk and James Tocco. They have appeared at major festivals in South Africa, including the Volksblad National Arts Festival in Bloemfontein, the UNISA Music Foundation Concert Series, and the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Their performances have been heard on WCLV (Cleveland), ClassicFm (South Africa), Radio Sonder Grense (SA), WGTE (Toledo), WYSU, and WFMT (Chicago). Their interest in new music has led to premiere performances of works written for the duo by young composers, and they enjoy taking part in new music festivals. Their performance at the famous Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago was broadcast live on NPR and PBS Television.
Pierre is Director of The Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and Awards. He recently served as President and CEO of the Cleveland International Piano Competition. Sophié served on the faculty of Cleveland State University. They both previously served on the faculty of Heidelberg University as Assistant Professors of Piano and Co-coordinators of the Keyboard Division. Pierre and Sophié enjoy teaching masterclasses wherever they perform, and have served as guest artists/faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Summer Sonata Festivaland theColorado International Piano Festival as guest artists, together with renowned pedagogue Nelita True.
The duo’s latest CD release, on AMP Recordings, features the complete works for two pianos by Francis Poulenc.