Author Archive | duoconcertante


So far we’ve commissioned over 35 new Canadian works and we usually program one of them on every recital we play. We also have recorded 3 CDs devoted entirely to new music written for us. Except for some family members who can be relied upon is to say things like “Are you going to be playing any of that weird music on that concert?”, we’re never quite sure what the reaction will be when we put a new work between some Bach or Beethoven. Ditto for when we make a record of all new Canadian pieces. So we were doubly thrilled when Incarnation was not only selected by CBC as one of the top ten classical albums of the year (and that’s a pretty broad category mind you) but also won Classical Album of the Year at the ECMAs. Thanks goes to the five great composers – Chan Ka Nin, Denis Gougeon, Alice Ho, Jocelyn Morlock and Andrew Staniland – who inspire us with their bravery (yes, bravery. It takes bravery to be a classical composer), imagination, beautiful art, and originality.

We recently added another wonderful new work to our repertoire – Frisson – by Randolph Peters. Usually when we commission a new piece, we’re sent the music and then if we’re lucky the composer might hear it at the premiere. But most times there’s not too much collaboration. This time, however, Randolph and the Duo thought it might be neat to document the process of writing and learning a new piece. We created what we think is an interesting video using material from interviews, the score, a workshop with students at Memorial University, and, of course, the premiere performance. By the way, the word “frisson” means “a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear” and describes the goosebumps you might feel at a climatic, intense musical moment. Randolph gave himself the challenge of trying to write a piece which causes a frisson moment in the listener. So you know, that is suppose to happen at about 12:17 in the video. And if it didn’t do that for you at this premiere performance, we promise we’ll nail it when we record it on our next all Canadian CD!


‘Tis the Season

We got a lovely Holiday surprise when our all-Canadian CD Incarnation was recently picked by CBC as one of the top 10 Classical Album of 2017! We are delighted beyond words! Thanks to the composers – Chan Ka Nin, Alice Ho, Andrew Staniland, Denis Gougeon and Jocelyn Morlock – for writing us such fabulous pieces and to the recording team of David Jaeger and Dennis Patterson for their amazing work in the booth.

As 2017 comes to a close we’re so pleased to share our newest CD – Perfect Light – a collection of original holiday arrangements written especially for us – and clarinettist Christine Carter who joins us on five tracks – by Clifford Crawley. Creating this CD was an extraordinarily meaningful experience as it was the last project Cliff worked on before he passed away in February of 2016.

We developed a special friendship with Cliff over the ten plus years he lived in St. John’s. He had retired from teaching composition at Queen’s University and followed his wife, renowned ethnomusicologist Bev Diamond, when she joined the Memorial University faculty. Cliff took no time in becoming a vital part of his new home, embracing opportunities to write for numerous St. John’s musicians with vigor, skill, and great generosity. The Duo’s first collaboration with Cliff was It Takes Two – an encore CD designed to showcase both the violin and piano equality. Cliff seemed to effortlessly produce these 14 wonderful and witty arrangements of opera arias, jazz tunes, musical numbers, and classical hits, recasting these well-known pieces in a fresh and imaginative way. More requests followed – ballet arrangements, original pieces – all produced with speed, enthusiasm, tremendous creativity, and big-heartedness.

Clifford Crawley 1929 – 2016

Our final requests of Cliff turned out to be these Christmas arrangements. It is not an easy task to arrange vocal music, where the text can change with each verse, for instruments only. Yet Cliff found a way to bring these tunes alive with just violin, piano, and, now and then, a clarinet. Often using the song as merely a starting point for an original fantasia, he cast new light on these old favorites. He worked on these up to the end of his life, completing them all but for “In the Bleak Midwinter”, which we recorded as a fragment only.

We are ever grateful for his treasured presence that lives on in our hearts through all these works, and we will always remember his kindness, wit, wisdom, talent, and generosity. This CD is dedicated to his memory.


Evelyn Hart

For the past ten years, we have enjoyed performing numerous works for violin, piano, and narrator/actor with prima ballerina star and national treasure Evelyn Hart. These include:

Vincent Ho Maples in the Stream. A tour de force of movement, music and narration with text by Chinese/Canadian poet Lien Chu which depicts the tortured journey from post revolution China to a new home in Canada.

Andrew Staniland The Ocean is Full of its Own Collapse. The text is from Lisa Moore’s February and based on the tragedy of the 1982 Newfoundland Ocean Ranger disaster, which took the lives of 84 men. Duo Concertante commissioned this work with generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Chan Ka Kin Late in a Slow Time. The poetry is by the award-winning Nova Scotia poet Carole Langille. This musical and narrative work explores the contradictory nature of wonder, suffering, and acceptance.