Two guys, two pianos, night of continuous laughter, enjoyment and audience participation: that was the focus of Saturday night’s Dueling Pianos.
The Govs Programming Council held the event on Saturday, Sept. 26, as part of the Family Weekend event schedule. Starting at 8 p.m. and lasting until around 10:30 p.m., the event was held in the UC Ballroom and provided free food and drinks to those who attended.
Dueling Pianos is a form of entertainment in which two pianos are placed next to each other. Two pianists will take turns playing songs requested by the audience. The requests themselves are divided, so one performer won’t have any warning which song the other is about to play. Despite that, the other pianist will occasionally join in, adding the harmony or otherwise adding to the sound of the song in question, all while thinking on their feet.
As pianist Adam Nelson explained, it wasn’t possible to rehearse for this kind of event.
“I’ve been doing this kind of thing for eight years,” Nelson said. “I just learn song after song after song. You have to stay on top of songs people might request. I’m constantly learning.”
Nelson was invited to APSU as part of the company he works for and was selected to perform for the students along with his companion by the company itself.
“I play with a select group of people,” Nelson said. “It’s not always the same person.”
Nelson said he doesn’t always play for the same amount of time, either. While GPC’s event was two and a half hours, Nelson has played for four hours on some occasions.
With the random nature of the requests, the songs performed varied widely throughout the night. Pieces included Living on a Prayer, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, some songs by Elton John, and rendition of 18 Wheels on a Big Rig, in which Nelson invited members of the audience to count to 18 in different languages, including Japanese and Arabic. Nelson was even successful in counting to 18 in Roman numerals, which only made the crowd more excited for the rest of the night.
Nelson said he had been playing the piano since he was little.
“I’ve been playing since I was eight,” Nelson said. “My mom played the organ at church.”
Nelson said he also had proficiency in the trumpet, guitar, French Horn and other instruments.
GPC had its hand in other events surrounding Family Weekend, including the Family Carnival, which lasted from 1 to 4 p.m. that Saturday afternoon. Alumni Relations hosted the Color Run from 6 to 8 p.m. that evening, and a few paint-splattered students sat in the front row, laughing and interacting with the musicians like everyone else.
When asked what makes playing fun and interesting, Nelson said it was the crowd.
“The audience makes it enjoyable,” Nelson said. “You guys were super fun to interact with, and it’s always more fun when the audience requests songs. It makes it more enjoyable.”