The EStrella Piano Duo burst onto the musical scene in 2011 with a series of concerts celebrating the great Russian masterpieces for piano duet. Elena Doubovitskaya and Svetlana Belsky share both their Russian heritage and training, and their enthusiasm for playing together. Their first performance evoked raves of “technical brilliance” and “infectious joy in music making”. The second drew a standing-room-only crowd.
During their 2012-13 season the duo toured throughout the Midwest performing works for two pianos and one piano four-hands by Slavic composers, as well as music of Mozart and “friends” – serious and humorous homages to the master by Grieg, Busoni, Lieberman and Anderson. The 2013-2014 season will focus on Russian and French programs. Russian Masterpieces will include arrangements of Russian ballet music including Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring", "Petrushka", and Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker", in addition to well known works such as Borodin's "Polovetsian Dances" and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade". The French program will explore excerpts from "Nocturnes" by Debussy, "La Valse" by Ravel spiced up by Greg Anderson's extreamly virtuosic arrangment of the Blue Danube Waltz. The season will culminate with a production of the "Rite of Spring" in collaboration with the Chicago-based Clinard Dance Theater.
Svetlana Belsky has appeared as a recitalist and chamber pianist in the Ukraine, Russia, Poland, China, Hong Kong, and throughout the United States, as well as soloist with several Illinois orchestras. Dr. Belsky has received awards for performances in international piano competitions and for her advocacy of new American music. Her recordings have been heard on radio stations worldwide, and her annotated translation of Busoni as Pianist has been nominated for an American Musicological Society award. Following her immigration from the Soviet Union, Dr. Belsky studied with Emilio Del Rosario in Chicago. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree (Summa Cum Laude) and her Master's degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, studying with Ann Schein. Later, she earned her Doctorate in Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, working with Nina Svetlanova. As the Coordinator of Piano Studies at the University of Chicago, Dr. Belsky teaches students from four continents, among her many other academic responsibilities.
A native of Russia, Elena Doubovitskaya performed her debut recital in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall as part of Artists International Presentations, followed by numerous engagements in the United States, Germany, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic and Russia. Dr. Doubovitskaya's accomplishments include awards from Artists International Presentations, the Seattle International Piano Competition and the Ibla Grand Prize Competition. She has performed at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Prague International Piano Master Classes and coached at the East-West Music Festival in Germany from 2002 to 2005 in addition to her regular appearances in Chicago metropolitan area. She has participated in Master Classes with Emanuel Ax, James Levine, Leif Ove Andsnes, Garrick Ohlsson, and Menahem Pressler. Dr. Doubovitskaya received her undergraduate degree from the Ural State "Mussorgsky" Conservatory in Ekaterinburg, Russia, followed by a Master's Degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where she studied under Solomon Mikowsky. In 2012 she earned her Doctorate Degree in Piano Performance from Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music, studying under Ursula Oppens and Sylvia Wang. In addition to an active performance career, Dr. Doubovitskaya currently serves as a piano department chair at the Merit School of Music in Chicago.