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Pianists take on different challenge in duet recital

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For a second time, Bethel graduate Susan Gaeddert of Madison, Wis., and her former teacher, Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, Bethel College professor of music, will collaborate for a piano duo concert.

The duet recital will take place Sunday, Nov. 14, at 3 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel on the Bethel campus. Admission is free and open to the public.

Gaeddert graduated from Bethel in 2000 with a B.A. in music and German. In music, for which she won a Thresher Award in her senior year, she focused in piano and organ.

She went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, where she earned a double master’s degree in piano performance/pedagogy and collaborative piano performance, and completed a DMA in collaborative piano.

Schlabaugh holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin College, a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Ithaca College and the Doctor of Musical Arts in piano from the University of Iowa.

Her current teaching areas are piano, music theory and music history, along with involvement in a cooperative piano pedagogy program. She has been chair of the Department of Music at Bethel College since fall 1998.

Gaeddert and Schlabaugh first had the idea more than two years ago that it might be fun to work together on a concert. Almost exactly two years ago, they presented a concert of music for four hands in the Ad Building chapel – and since it worked out well the first time, they decided to do it again.

“[Susan] came down about a week ahead,” Schlabaugh said. “We practiced our own [parts], and we talked a little bit about what the tempos might be and that sort of thing. But it went together pretty well. That doesn’t always happen.”

For the upcoming concert, Gaeddert and Schlabaugh will play “Andante with Variations” by Mozart; “Four-handed Piano Pieces for Children Large and Small, Op. 85” by Robert Schumann; “Czech Duets” by Karel Husa; “Sonata for Piano Four Hands” by Paul Hindemith; “Souvenirs, Op. 28 (Ballet Suite for Piano Four Hands)” by Samuel Barber; and “Scherzo” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, transcribed for piano duet by Felix Mendelssohn.

For this program, she and Gaeddert had to choose between two different types of duet music, Schlabaugh said.

“One of the interesting things about playing duets is that there’s music that is for two pianos, and then there’s music for two people at one piano – one piano four hands,” Schlabaugh said. She and Gaeddert are doing the latter.

Playing at one piano means there are some things they will have to work out in the week before the concert.

“When you play together at one piano, sometimes there are these ‘Get out of my way’ issues,” Schlabaugh said, “just because your hands are sometimes really close together. So you have to figure out how to get out of the way of the other person at times. That’s duet play – working out the logistics.”

Despite these challenges, Schlabaugh says she is excited about another chance to work with a former student.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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