Praised for their “sensitive and ingenious” interpretations, Monika Gruber and Hillary Nordwell formed the Eusebius Duo in 2005, shortly after graduating from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 2006, they took first prize in the CMFONE International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in Boston, MA, which resulted in a performance at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, New York.
Based in the Bay Area, they perform regularly at San Francisco’s Noontime Concerts, Old First Concerts, and the Bing Concert Series at Stanford University Hospital. They have also appeared in Berkeley’s Trinity Chamber Concerts and Napa’s Festival del Sole, among others. Concert tours have taken the Eusebius Duo to perform several concerts in Washington State, where they were also featured on KONP Radio’s ‘Art Beat’, and to Germany, where they were invited to perform in Dortmund’s ‘Summer Matinees for Young Artists’ series.
The duo’s mutual love of Robert Schumann’s life and music brought them together under the name “Eusebius,” one of the pseudonyms Schumann used in writing for his Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. According to a German reviewer, “It is the split between the lyrical “Eusebius” and the wildly open “Florestan” (both pseudonyms of Schumann), that also characterizes the playing of the Eusebius Duo. Quick-tempered displays of strength pair themselves with irresistibly melting tone… The musical partners seem, even in the smallest nuances, to be in agreement with one another.” Another reviewer comments on Nordwell’s “musical zeal,” and Gruber’s “soft, clear tone, which she can also imbue with gripping fire.”
The shared education of the Eusebius Duo at the San Francisco Conservatory includes chamber music study with Mark Sokol, Paul Hersh, and Ian Swensen, and master classes with Gilbert Kalish (SUNY Stony Brook), Menahem Pressler (Beaux Arts Trio) and Martha Katz (Cleveland Quartet).
A native of Germany, Monika Gruber graduated from the ‘Hochschule fuer Musik’ in Weimar in 2003 with an Artistic Diploma and a Teaching Diploma. She spent the Academic Year 2000/01 as a recipient of the European “Erasmus” Scholarship at the ‘Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique’ in Lyon, France, studying violin with Stephane Tran Ngoc. In 2003 she won the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship Award, which enabled her to come to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Ian Swensen and completed her Masters Degree in May 2005. After having served as 1st violinist of the SF Conservatory’s New Music Ensemble, Monika currently pursues her passion for New Music as concertmaster of the SF Composers Chamber Orchestra. A dedicated teacher, she was a faculty member of the SF Conservatory’s Preparatory Division in 2005/06 and currently teaches at the SF Community Music Center, where she won this year’s Faculty Concerto Competition and will perform the Sibelius Concerto in June of 2007.
Hillary Nordwell is a graduate of Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she studied with Catherine Kautsky and was honored for three consecutive years with the Marjory Irvin Prize for “excellence in solo piano and chamber music.” In 2005 she completed her Masters Degree in Chamber Music, studying both piano and chamber music with Paul Hersh, Mark Sokol, and Ian Swensen at the San Francisco Conservatory. Hillary has performed in master classes with renowned artists and teachers Richard Goode, Robert McDonald, and Gilbert Kalish, and in collaborative classes with Paul Katz, Lynn Harrell, and Menahem Pressler. She has performed chamber music throughout the United States, as well as in Italy, Austria, Germany, and Sweden. Her solo engagements have included concerto appearances with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra, Port Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Port Townsend Orchestra. Hillary also maintains a private teaching studio in Pacifica, CA and is co-president of the Suzuki Music Teachers of California, Bay Area Piano Branch. For more information, please see her website at www.hillarynordwell.com