Originally founded in 1988, Duo Sequenza’s passion is to build new audiences for today’s classical music and promote the work of living composers. Comprised of flutist Debra Silvert and classical guitarist Paul Bowman, Duo Sequenza has toured throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe, enjoying enthusiastic ovations from audiences and acclaim from critics. Their formal debut at Geneva’s European International Festival included trans-Atlantic premieres of American new music.
Continuing their commitment to audience development and living composers, the duo has developed several new initiatives including their popular Journey Beyond the Notes!, an interactive concert featuring South Shore Suite by Jorge Muñiz, and Project Listen Up!, a unique residency program in which their musical artistry is embedded throughout the host community with numerous informal, short, curated performances in multiple non- traditional venues. Project Listen Up! repertoire is chosen for its organic tie-in to specific venues to create awareness, establish the relevancy of new music, and stimulate broad public interest in the chamber music genre. Conversation with attendees is lively and engaging.
Today, Debra and Paul are our featured artists in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to learn about a particularly memorable Salon Concert the Duo performed in…
Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?
Paul: My early influences on the classical guitar were Andrés Segovia, Alirio Díaz, and Oscar Ghiglia. The Segovia recordings from the 1920’s, Diaz’s “400 Years of the Classical Guitar,” and Ghiglia’s modern repertoire — all these recordings influenced me the most.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
Deb: Before I discovered my artistic self, I was an incorrigible juvenile delinquent. I’d had a few weeks of private flute lessons in the 2nd (!!!) grade and had insisted my mother buy, and not rent, my flute. I took that flute with me on my numerous runaway jaunts around the country when I was 15…but I think I planned to pawn it rather than play it! Fortunately, I was placed in a musical foster home after that, and my foster parents offered to pay for private lessons. In the process of getting my adolescent head together, I fell in love with the sound of the flute and I wanted nothing more than to be able to express myself by making music with it.
What was your most unusual performance?
Duo: That would have to be one that we did as part of “Project Listen Up,” where we take our music into non-traditional venues. In addition to a bunch of unusual venues, we did two “Salon Concerts,” followed shortly thereafter by our rather reactionary “Hair (!?!) Salon Concert!” It was challenging to perform our “cutting edge” music to the occasional accompaniment of a blow dryer or two!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Deb: I hate to admit it, because I really do feel guilty about it, but it would have to be binge watching Netflix with my husband…especially Shameless, which we’re into right now. Hubby finds it incredulous that I see the show as pretty descriptive of much of my life growing up in an alcoholic/addicted family.
If you could make a living at any job in the world, what would that job be?
Paul: During the current Duo Sequenza residency in “Project Listen Up,” I have envisioned making my living playing concerts — this project has placed 16 concerts by Duo Sequenza in 27 days and having one income stream versus the many in the “gig economy” has been just great.
Deb: There’s no question that I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing right now with Duo Sequenza, but with adequate funding to support our day-to-day operations so that we would be able to draw regular paychecks!
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Paul: The city I would live in is New York. With the vibrancy and it being the general center of much new music, I feel I would continue my trending as an important “interpreter of modern sensibilities” (Ted Shen, Chicago Reader, 1995).
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
Duo: We think the album title YES…IT’S A THING! says it all. There is such a wealth of excellent music written for flute and classical guitar, especially that which has been composed in the last 25 years or so. Granted, we don’t have a large canon of works by iconic composers like a string quartet does, but the music we do have for this ensemble is important, evocative, and very moving. There are more and more worthy pieces coming out all the time as composers continue to embrace the unique capabilities of this duo. We’re looking forward to a good long lifetime of premiering new work.
YES…IT’S A THING will be available for streaming or purchase through Navona Records on April 26. Click here to pre-order.