Piano Battle: It's Andreas Kern Vs Paul Cibis And You Decide Who Wins

'Piano Battle' 'Piano Battle'

There are two talented musicians... But there can only be one winner.

Andreas Kern and Paul Cibis are fighting it out to determine the superior pianist in 'Piano Battle', and in this battle the audience has the final say on who wins.

It's a show divided into several rounds, and they'll even take your requests!

Here, Andreas and Paul answer some questions about 'Piano Battle'.

Where did the piano battle begin? What made you two decide to face off against each other?
Paul: 'Piano Battle' started more or less by accident. We were both in contact with the Hong Kong City Festival and there was only one concert slot left. The festival suggested that we share...
Andreas: And it did not take us long to discover that we definitely did not want to perform together! The fight was on and we decided to battle it out right on stage.
Paul: To our surprise, the show was so successful that we were invited back. Since then we have been performing 'Piano Battle' more and more every year – to the extent that we now perform three and more different shows in 40 plus performances a year.    

Has there even been a tie? What would happen if there was?!
Paul: Sometimes the votings are very close, but we don’t allow a tie.
Andreas: Yes, there is only one winner each time.

How is the winner decided?
Andreas: By the audience with voting cards.
Paul: We play several rounds with each one piece of the same musical style, trying to outperform each other. It is a serious competition and we always go out on stage to win.
Andreas: So the audience has to listen very intensely because they are absolutely in charge of the outcome.
Paul: There is a master plan and depending on who wins a certain round, we will continue one way or another. But there is still a lot of flexibility, which makes it a lot of fun for us as well.
Andreas: We also have a proper improvisation round where we spontaneously play suggestions called up to us by the audience. And I always like to throw a surprise or two at Paul – just to keep him on his toes!

Image © Inken Rauch

Have you ever considered switching it up so the winner is decided differently?
Paul: The winner is decided differently each evening. It all depends on the audience, and maybe our daily form.
Andreas: Which means that it’s mainly me.

Why are you both so passionate about piano?
Andreas: I love the piano so much because it is so self-sufficient, and I can imitate so many different instruments and perform so many different styles. It can sound like a symphonic orchestra as well as a jazzy percussion group. Everything seems possible!
Paul: I just fell in love with the sound of the piano when I was a child, and it has never ceased since.

What are each of your favourite styles of music to play?
Paul: The music of Schubert and Chopin speaks to me a lot.
Andreas: Somehow there is always Bach. And my own improvisations.

Image © Mathias Bothor

And what about a favourite song/piece of music?
Paul: It’s impossible for me to define a few, let alone just one. But among my all-time favourites I would name Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Liszt’s B-minor Sonata, Schubert’s Die Taubenpost, Brahms’ 1st and Mahler’s 2nd symphonies. There are also Mozart’s D-minor piano concerto, Beethoven’s 4th symphony, Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde... Don’t get me started!
Andreas: Bach’s piano concerto in d-minor.
Paul: Adele's 'Make You Feel My Love'.
Andreas: Coldplay's 'Viva La Vida'.

What can Australian audiences expect from this show aside from the obvious?
Andreas: 'Piano Battle' stands for classical music and entertainment. In our show, the competition is serious in the sense that we always go out on stage to win. But of course, music was not written for competitions and our battle is to be taken with a twinkle in the eye.
Paul: The audience has to listen very intensely because they have to make a decision and we hope that this close attention will also increase their enjoyment of the music. Our somewhat different and lighthearted format will hopefully interest new audiences in classical music and make them understand that the classics can be great fun. That would be the best outcome.

'Piano Battle' Tour Dates

25 August – Melbourne Recital Centre
29 August – Brisbane City Hall
30 August – The Concourse (Sydney)
1 September – Perth Concert Hall


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