Christina and Michelle Naughton are not the first siblings to become a successful piano duo. They’re not even the first identical twins to team up on keyboards. But the 29-year-olds may be among the most exciting duos of today, as Sarasota Orchestra audiences will have the chance to discover when they play Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at Van Wezel Hall.
The sisters, raised in Wisconsin and now sharing an apartment in New York City, have won rave reviews for their interpretation of works by composers from Mozart to Stravinsky. Both started their piano lessons at the age of 4 (taught by their mother initially), but they did not play as a duo until it was suggested to them late in high school. They went on to train as solo pianists at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School, but were drawn back to the idea of a duo. “We thought, ‘Here’s something we want to do.’ We love it,” Michelle says. “It takes some getting used to; at first you’re used to having the bench and the piano to yourself.” (They sometimes play at the same piano, depending on the composition.)
“Finding repertoire that works for us, and the organization we’re playing for, is harder than you think,” Michelle adds. But on the other hand (so to speak), “When you travel, it’s a lot less lonely.” Also, she says, “We don’t need to use a lot of words to communicate, or even visual cues.” Christina agrees. “Being twins, there’s definitely a different kind of communication. It’s not like synchronized diving; it’s like having a conversation.” Get ready to listen in.