Dual Piano started out as an idea for a fun night of music for the First Night Celebration of the Arts in Springfield, Illinois, December 31, 2012.
Springfield musicians Mark Gifford and Damien Kaplan decided to put together a 45-minute program. A new act was created. That night the room was full of friends and family and the rest is history in the making.
The roar of the applause, the energy of the sing-a-long numbers was fueled with the piano styling of Gifford and Kaplan to the delight of everyone in the room. There was great disappointment when others learned there wasn’t a second performance. This led to more concerts, new music and wider audience from Springfield to St. Louis.
The two musicians are very different – yet have found a place together playing, singing and inviting others to have fun with them. They talk to each other and have a conversation with their music.
A church musician and theater organist by hobby, Mark has been the house organist on the Barton Theater Pipe Organ in Springfield High School for over 20 years. He currently serves as Interim Organist and Director of Music for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception playing on the 4 manual 59 rank Reuter pipe organ, installed there in the spring of 2016.
Kaplan is choral director at Springfield High School, Music Director / Arranger for the Lincoln Troubadours and is often conducting musicals for the Springfield MUNI, Springfield Theater Center as well as Springfield High School.
From Broadway to Classical; swing to jazz; playing and singing, Mark and Damien treat each song with a combination of deep respect, excellent musicianship and just a hint that things may not be exactly what they seem.
Improvisation is key to the success. There is a mixture of each player’s love for the music, creativity let loose to inspire and a deep love for surprise and amusement.
Comedy runs amuck throughout their programs and no one knows what is going to happen next – including Mark and Damien. The ghosts of such past entertainers as Victor Borge, Liberace and Ferrante & Teicher can be felt rampaging through the hall when Mark and Damien are at the keyboards.
Their programs are full of favorites from all genres of music. Some will have you wanting to sing along and you just might be invited to!
Dual Piano is an adventure in sound coming from two pianos, four hands, two talented and creative brains let loose for an evening of fun.