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Oregon Teen Pianists Make History: First Piano Duo from the State to Reach National Competition

by Madonna

In a remarkable achievement, sixteen-year-olds Alexis Zou from Lake Oswego and Hansen Berrett from West Linn have become the first Oregon piano duo to advance to the national stage of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Senior Piano Duet competition. This groundbreaking accomplishment marks a significant milestone for Oregon in the history of the MTNA, which has been holding its national competition since 2007.

The MTNA competitions are renowned as some of the most prestigious in the country for performers and composers, making Zou and Berrett’s success a noteworthy feat. Piano duets, the category in which they triumphed, represent compositions that require collaboration, as they are too intricate for a single musician to master. Originating during the Classical era, piano duets present a unique set of challenges, especially given the absence of the modern piano during that period.

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Both Zou, a sophomore at Lake Oswego High School, and Berrett, a junior at West Linn High School, boast individual accolades in piano competitions, earning recognition for their exceptional performance abilities at both regional and national levels. Their proficiency extends beyond solo endeavors, as they have demonstrated exceptional skill in navigating the intricacies of piano duets.

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In a previous showcase on All Classical Portland’s radio program “On Deck with Young Musicians,” Zou and Berrett discussed the nuances of mastering challenging duet arrangements. Their journey into piano duets has not only showcased their technical prowess but has also contributed significantly to the development of their musicianship.

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The duo, brought together by their music teacher Renato Fabbro, is set to represent Oregon at the National MTNA Senior competition in Atlanta, Georgia, scheduled for March. Building on their success in the Northwest Division, Zou and Berrett will perform a repertoire encompassing the Contemporary, Classical, Romantic, and Baroque eras. Their journey stands as a testament to the talent and dedication of young musicians in Oregon, leaving an indelible mark on the state’s musical legacy.

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