SMSO hosts dueling pianos show

Published 5:25 pm Thursday, January 16, 2014

Performers with Dueling Pianos International will entertain supporters of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra on Jan. 31. (Submitted photo)

Performers with Dueling Pianos International will entertain supporters of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra on Jan. 31. (Submitted photo)

ST. JOSEPH­—On Jan. 31, residents of Michiana will have the opportunity to enjoy a high-energy performance from Dueling Pianos International while supporting the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra at the same time.

“We’ve used this company in the past, and they’re wonderful, just wonderful,” said Loretta Holmes, marketing and education coordinator for the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. “People had a wonderful time last year.”

In fact, this event is so popular with audiences that the performers have played to capacity crowds the past two years.

“In past years, it has been sold out, so much so that this year, we’ve opened up the venue to expand the space for more people to attend,” Holmes said. “It will take place at the Vineland Center at 1155 Vineland Rd. in St. Joseph.”

For those who are unfamiliar with this genre of performance, a “dueling pianos” show involves two pianists who take turns playing requests from audience members, interspersing humor and sing-a-longs among the songs they play throughout the evening.

Audience members are invited to tip the pianists when they make a request, and the size of the tip may influence the priority the musicians give to that particular song. When it comes to college fight songs in particular, bidding wars between alumni and students of those colleges may arise.

“One of the highlights of the evening is the college fight songs,” said Holmes. “Audience members just love that part of the show.”

The pianists will also acknowledge special occasions that audience members are celebrating that evening, playing requests for songs that have special meanings for those who have requested them. The musicians may even call particular audience members up onto the stage.

“They do a shout-out for anniversaries and birthdays, and they kind of poke fun at the audience members in a fun way,” Holmes explained.

For that reason, event-goers are invited to use this performance as a venue for their own celebrations. It is possible to reserve an entire table that seats eight guests, but individual tickets are also available at a cost of $30 each.

While the performance itself begins at 7 p.m. and doors for the show open at 6:30 p.m., audience members are invited to arrive earlier for an optional buffet dinner which begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for the dinner are $15 each, and they must be purchased in advance.

The dinner menu includes Italian herb chicken, mostaccioli, a house tossed salad, green bean amandine, red skinned potatoes and rolls with butter. A cash bar will also be available throughout the evening.

As a fundraiser for the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, the evening will also include a silent auction.

“One of the highlights is that we have a silent auction for gift certificates that we obtain from our sponsors, and people can bid on them,” Holmes said. “It’s one of our annual fundraisers that helps us tremendously.”

One auction item that has drawn intense bidding in the past is a $100 gift certificate to Four Winds Casino. Other businesses and organizations that will provide gift certificates include Renaissance Athletic Club, Celebration Cinema, Silver Beach Pizza and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, just to name a few.

More information about the event is available by calling the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra office at (269) 982-4030 or by visiting their website at, where tickets can also be purchased. More information about the performers can be found at

“It’s a great way to beat the winter blues, get out of the house, and have a really good time,” Holmes said.