Emmerson & Lifschitz Duo

Emmerson Lifschitz Duo

Photo credit Angela Turner

Two of Australia’s most innovative, imaginative and searching musical voices come together to re-imagine works of the past, re-invent the works of the present, and forge new paths into the future in the genre of two piano ensemble. The duo seeks to explore the theatricality, dramaturgy, and the intimate and intricate dialogue possible between the two instruments.

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    Upcoming performances of the Emmerson / Lifschitz Duo


January 19 & 20, 2018
MOFO 2018
Organ Room, MONA
Stalin’s Piano
Buy tickets here
More information here

Mofo at Mona

STALIN’S PIANO – 2 shows

Organ Room, Mona
Included in the Three-Day Mona Pass ($139–$179 + booking fee) or relevant Day Pass ($55–$69 + booking fee)

Composer Robert Davidson has set audio and footage of iconic speeches—from Bertholt Brecht to JFK to our own Julia Gillard—to live piano, performed by virtuoso pianist Sonya Lifschitz.

March 14, 2018, 7:30pm
Adelaide Festival
Stalin’s Piano
Buy tickets here
More information here

A choral setting of Julia Gillard’s ‘misogyny speech’ replete with her every cadence and rhetorical rhythm, went viral a few years ago. The former PM’s musical amanuensis was composer Robert Davidson whose obsession with what he calls “voice portraiture” reaches its zenith in this fabulous and virtuosic multimedia work.

The undisputed hit of the 2017 Canberra International Music Festival, Davidson harnesses the voices and visual footage of 19 artists and politicians (Brecht, Goebbels, JFK, Percy Grainger, Judith Wright, David Malouf, Whitlam and, yes, DJ Trump among them), capturing the music of their often iconic speeches, and crystallising it in a score played live with astonishing brilliance by Sonya Lifschitz. The text is sometimes followed to the syllable, at other times looped and mashed up to create wild flights of what could be mistaken for Cuban jazz riffs.

The title refers to courageous Russian pianist Maria Yudina, an outspoken champion of artistic freedom whose recording of a Mozart concerto was ironically on Stalin’s turntable when he died. Ukrainian born Lifschitz, for whom the music was conceived, approaches her formidable task with equal fearlessness.

Please find Adelaide Festival event detail here: adelaidefestival.com.au/2018/stalins-piano

March 15, 2018, 7:30pm
City Recital Hall Sydney
Stalin’s Piano
Buy tickets here
More information here

“A captivating interplay between piano and the voices of history. ★★★★1/2” Limelight Magazine

A smash hit at its 2017 premiere at Canberra International Music Festival, Stalin’s Piano is a compelling musical exploration of a century of history, art and politics. Celebrated pianist Sonya Lifschitz weaves virtuosic music together with video and audio recordings of eminent artists and political figures in this striking multimedia composition by Robert Davidson.

Musical vignettes of notable identities are entwined with actual excerpts from their lives and work, from Le Corbusier to Shostakovich, Jackson Pollack to Ai Wei Wei, and Julia Gillard to Donald Trump.

Robert Davidson is renowned for unearthing the hidden musicality of speech in his works, creating a new dialogue between voice and instruments.

Praised by the New York Times and The Age as “dynamic” and “powerful”, Sonya Lifschitz is internationally-recognised as one of Australia’s most innovative and fiercely creative musical voices.


Sonya Lifschitz piano
Duration: approximately 60 minutes, no interval


Standard $30
City Recital Hall Member $25

Look & Listen

Press, Play:
Andrew Byrne White Bone Country (live from fortyfivedounstairs, excerpt)
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Emmerson/Lifschitz Duo:
J.S. Bach/arr. Emmerson Goldberg Variations (trailer)
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Damian Barbeler Bright Birds (live from Four Winds Festival):
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Concerto Appearances:
Kate Neal Particle Zoo II (live from Arts House Meat Market, excerpts)
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