The voices of guest musicians Bill Connors and Julia Chisholm resonated throughout Susie’s as the pair accompanied a piano while covering “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. The audience, packed with students swaying side to side with arms around each other, sang together in harmony with the duo of performers.
On January 17, students gathered for a collaborative performance from “Dueling Pianos,” featuring Connors and Chisholm, who took turns singing and playing pieces requested by the audience on the stage in Susie’s. In an email to The Phillipian, Connors shared his opinions of what he hopes audience members would take from their performance.
“Dueling Pianos really has a loop of energy. Like on this night, the more you put in, the more comes back, and it feeds itself. Remember, we are only doing songs that the students request to hear, unlike other forms of entertainment,” wrote Connor.
According to audience member Kenichi Fujiwara ’22, the ability to request certain songs to Connors and Chisholm made him feel more connected to them.
“I love the fact that we’re able to request our favorite songs and hear them live. [It] really satisfies us and makes us happy. It’s definitely more interactive than performance-based, and since the performers know so many songs and can take so many requests, it makes the environment between the audience and the performers more friendly,” said Fujiwara.
Although electric keyboards were the main instrument used during the show, Connors occasionally played alongside Chisholm using different instruments, including a tambourine, harmonica, and even the drum set from Garageband on his phone. According to audience member Chioma Ugwonali ’20, the variety of instruments used really helped spice up and enrich the performance.
“The different instruments used gave the songs a nice depth. If you’re just playing the piano, you could still create many different tones, but it could get a little boring. But they were great artists and musicians, and not only were they able to use different instruments, but they were also able to manipulate their voice to really put certain inflections on different words or trill or reach falsettos,” said Ugwonali.
Both performers mainly performed duet covers of the requested songs in unison, but sometimes one would accompany the other with either harmonic or comedic elements. According to audience member Sol Kim ’23, the balance between the impressive vocal technique and the occasional humor was his favorite aspect of the performance.
Kim said, “My favorite part so far is definitely how one of them is really good at singing, and the other keeps cracking jokes. It’s like a combination of amazement and humor. It’s really fun.”
For the last hour of the show, titled “Senior Hour Special,” Connors and Chisholm performed exclusively for Seniors. Ugwonali, who attended during the Senior Hour, enjoyed how it was similar to a private performance just for her and her friends.
“I knew that not many Seniors would go, so it was more like a private concert with [my friends] and I… We just sat in the front row singing along and dancing,” said Ugwonali.