Since joining forces as a professional duo in 2009, internationally acclaimed solo pianists Eva-Maria Zimmermann and Keisuke Nakagoshi — ZOFO — have electrified audiences from Carnegie Hall to Tokyo with their dazzling artistry and outside-the-box thematic programming for one-piano-four-hands. This Grammy-nominated, prize-winning Steinway Artist Ensemble — one of only a handful of duos worldwide devoted exclusively to piano duets — is blazing a bold new path for piano four hands groups by focusing on 20th and 21st century repertoire and by commissioning new works from noted composers each year.

ZOFO, which is shorthand for 20-finger orchestra (ZO=20 and FO=finger orchestra), also performs heart-pumping duet arrangements of famous orchestral pieces such as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, exploring the realms in which many composers first experienced their symphonic visions. ZOFO believes that the piano duet is the most intimate form of chamber music, with two musicians playing individual parts on one instrument in a complex, often beautiful choreography of four hands.

ZOFO’s concert programs often incorporate a unifying theme that connects the works both musically and historically. Several of these thematic programs have been released worldwide as critically acclaimed commercial CDs under their multi-disc recording contract with Grammy Award-winning label Sono Luminus Records. Their 2013 debut CD Mind Meld was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Producer of the Year.

ZOFO made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2010, the same year they won the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition. ZOFO was the only piano duo to be elevated to the final round in the 2011 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. They have performed at a wide variety of concert venues across North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan, including intimate, informal spaces; colleges and universities; and major concert venues such as the Tokyo Opera Recital Hall, the Sydney City Recital Hall, and Tonhalle Zurich. ZOFO has participated at numerous festivals such as Murten Classics in Switzerland, the Sun Valley Music Festival in Idaho, the Music on the Heights International Chamber Music Festival in Poland, and the Kusatsu Summer International Academy and Festival in Japan.

Committed to contemporary music, ZOFO duet has commissioned more than thirty works by noted composers including Pulitzer Prize-winner William Bolcom, Gabriela Lena Frank, Terry Riley, Akira Nishimura, Carl Vine, Pawel Mykietyn, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Pablo Ortiz, and many others. For their cutting-edge project ZOFOMOMA – New Pictures at an Exhibition, ZOFO commissioned new works from 15 top composers around the globe, and requested each to select a painting representative of his or her culture as a springboard to the creative process. With this project, ZOFO was invited to a nine-concert Australia tour presented by Musica Viva in spring 2019. In the same year ZOFO commissioned two concertos for one-piano four-hands by Australian composer Carl Vine and Argentinian-American composer Pablo Ortiz, and premiered them with the Grant Park Orchestra under Carlos Kalmar, and the San José Chamber Orchestra under Barbara Day Turner respectively. ZOFO’s newest projects include a CD recording with gamelan-inspired works by American composer Brian Baumbusch.

ZOFO's innovative and inspired performances have garnered national media attention, and ZOFO has been featured on American Public Media’s Performance Today, WFMT Chicago’s Impromptu, KING-FM’s Second Inversion, Australia's ABC Radio National’s The Art Show, among many others.



Echoes of Gamelan

Balinese Ceremonial Music – Pemungkah

Leopold GodowskyIn the Kraton from Java Suite

Balinese Ceremonial Music – Gambangan 

Claude DebussySirènes from Three Nocturnes

Balinese Ceremonial MusicRébong 

Gustav Holst Saturn, from The Planets

– Intermission –

Balinese Ceremonial MusicTabuh Telu

George Crumb Beta Cygni from Celestial Mechanics, “Makrokosmos IV” 

Balinese Ceremonial MusicLagu Délem

Putu Septa – Piece for ZOFO TBD

Brian BaumbuschPenrose Prologue

Ni Nyoman SrayamurtikantiSpeech Delay

Echoes of Gamelan explores the influence of gamelan music on western composers, as well as how our music perception changes depending on the context. Colin McPhee’s transcriptions of Balinese ceremonial music are interwoven with pieces by Godowsky, Debussy, Holst, and Crumb. This juxtaposition prompts us to listen to each piece from outside the western tradition and to experience compositional time differently. Debussy heard gamelan music for the first time at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. This exposure made a huge impact on his development and by extension on many composers to come. The program closes with pieces by Balinese composers Putu Septa and Ni Nyoman Srayamurtikanti. Putu Septa’s piece is written for piano duet while Srayamurtikanti’s piece Speech Delay was originally written for Balinese shadow-puppet theater instruments and transcribed for ZOFO by Brian Baumbusch. Just as Debussy did with Western classical music more than a hundred years ago, Putu Septa and Srayamurtikanti are exploring the outer reaches of traditional gamelan music.

Mind Meld: Composers Share the Bench

Bernstein – Candide Overture

Debussy – Six Epigraphes Antiques

Shapero – Sonata for Piano 4 Hands

– Intermission –

Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring

Mind Meld brings together stunning duet works by four noted 20th century composers and pianists who knew each other, learned from each other, and sometimes shared the bench. As young students at Harvard, Leonard Bernstein and Harold Shapero teamed up as a piano duo before Bernstein’s career exploded. Shapero wrote his Sonata for the two of them. Stravinsky read through the one–piano–four–hand score of his Rite of Spring together with Debussy in the home of their friend Louis Laloy, before any orchestra had touched the work. Debussy later wrote to Stravinsky about the Rite of Springas a “beautiful nightmare.” Released by Sono Luminus in 2012, ZOFO’s album Mind Meld was nominated for Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Producer of the Year, Classical. The album and live performance program continue to attract positive critical attention around the world.

Phantasma: The Dark Side of Fairytales

Alfredo Casella: Pupazzetti

Keisuke Nakagoshi: Synaesthesia

Stravinsky: Three Movements From Petrushka

– Intermission –

Debussy: Prélude à l’Après–midi d’un faune

Nicholas Pavkovich: Chimaera

Dukas: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Phantasma, phantom, fantasy, fantastic! In this program we explore the world of wonder and imagination. In Casella’s Pupazzetti and Stravinsky’s three movements of Petrushka puppets are coming to life and, unfortunately, experience spurned love and jealousy. Sounds appear as Fata Morganas in Synaesthesia, written by ZOFO’s own Keisuke Nakagoshi. We pay a visit to hybrid creatures of Roman and Greek mythology in both Debussy’s Prélude à l’après–midi d’un faune and Pavkovic’s Chimaera. Originally composed for player piano, the latter is brought to musical life with beautiful melodic lines, accompanied and interrupted by voices of mechanical wildness. The program closes with Dukas’ sparkling L’Apprenti Sorcier, based on Goethe’s ballade “Der Zauberlehrling” and featured in the Disney film “Fantasia” (1940).

ZOFOrbit: A Space Odyssey

Gustav Holst  – Five Movements from The Planets (1914–1916, arranged by ZOFO in 2013)

Urmas Sisask –  Six Movements from The Spiral Symphony (1999)

George Crumb – Two Movements from Celestial Mechanics (1979)

David Lang – gravity (2005)

Total = 65 mins of music

ZOFORBIT takes the listener on a voyage through outer space. Estonian composer Urmas Sisask’s The Spiral Symphony sets the mood with otherworldly sounds, featuring innovative inside–piano techniques that evoke a sense of the cosmos. The short movements serve as a sonic spaceship to transport the audience from one planet or star to another. Starting on Mars, the Bringer of War, the journey continues to tour Gustav Holst’s The Planets and pays visits to the stars Alpha Centauri and Beta Cygni as musically envisioned by George Crumb in his one–piano–four–hands masterpiece, Celestial Mechanics. David Lang’s gravity gives the impression of falling without ever landing. Before taking off for infinity, we alight on a planet for the last time—Venus, the Bringer of Peace.


One-Piano-Four-Hands: The Original iTunes

In this interactive and fun 45-minute program, children and young adults ages 12–18 are introduced to the history of the piano duet—from its inception to its future.

What were people doing for entertainment before there were LPs, CDs, or iTunes? Why was playing piano duets was so hot? What does English composer Gustav Holst have to do with Star Wars? Wait—these sounds came from a piano?

What happens when you break the territorial boundaries of one-piano-four-hands playing?

How can you prevent fights between the two players? How can we help give birth to new piano duets? 

Excerpts from the following works are played during the presentation:

  • BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5, arranged for piano duet
  • SCHUBERT: Fantasy in F minor
  • GUSTAV HOLST: The Planets, arranged for piano duet
  • ALLEN SHAWN: Hard-Edged
  • URMAS SISASK: The Milky Way
  • TOMOHIRO MORIYAMA: Let’s Play a Duet! (video)
  • GABRIELA LENA FRANK: Karnavalito from Sonata Serrana No.1