For twenty-three years through live performances and acclaimed recordings, violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves have built an international career in the Canadian chamber ensemble, Duo Concertante. Their name comes from the inscription over Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata, “in stilo molto concertante,” which implies the two performers are equal, dynamic voices. This defines their unique artistic relationship and the “deeply integrated performances that flow naturally as if the music were being created on the spot” (Gramophone). Outstanding musicians, champions of new Canadian music, visionary artistic directors, and inspiring mentors, Duo Concertante have forged a musical legacy and strive to provoke thought and engagement through music in innovative ways.
Duo Concertante are the founders and artistic directors of the Tuckamore Festival – an internationally acclaimed chamber musical festival held for two weeks each August. For 21 years, Tuckamore – a major contributor to the cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador – has put the province on the map by welcoming leading artists and emerging musicians worldwide to St. John’s. The Tuckamore Festival has presented more than 140 outstanding guest artists; mentored more than 400 young musicians and composers representing 10 countries around the globe; travelled to more than two dozen communities for school tours and performances; and produced more than 500 performances and events. In addition to Tuckamore, Duo Concertante regularly perform and collaborate with other artists of international stature at summer music festivals throughout North America, including the Ottawa International Chamberfest, Cactus Pear Music Festival, Toronto Summer Music, Festival of the Sound, Indian River Festival, Domaine Forget, and Music Niagara.
Duo Concertante’s recordings have set the benchmarks for musicians around the world. Of their epic recording, Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Violin and Piano (a 3 CD album), preeminent critic John Terauds proclaimed “…these beautiful interpretations are so good right down to the tiniest of details that they deserve to be called a reference in… contemporary performance”. Gramophone writes that Dahn and Steeves “do Atlantic Canada proud in this splendid new set” and describes their interpretation as a “miracle of… knowledge and poetry”. The album received critical praise in German, Austrian, British, and Canadian media; it was featured for months on Air Canada’s entertainment system and is heard on CBC radio almost weekly.
Duo Concertante has eleven other acclaimed recordings on top Canadian labels ATMA, Centrediscs, and Marquis. Their first three CDs on the ATMA label were À Deux, Of Heart and Homeland, and Wild Honey. It Takes Two (2009) features encore pieces arranged by Canadian composer Clifford Crawley; American Record Guide described it as “spectacular.” Wild Bird (Centrediscs, 2010) comprises works written for the Duo by renowned Canadian composers R. Murray Schafer, Chan Ka Nin, and Kati Agócs, including Schafer’s “Duo for Violin and Piano”, which won a 2011 Juno Award (Classical Composition of the Year). In 2016, they released their eighth CD, a two-disc set of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas for Violin and Keyboard, for which they received the first of three consecutive ECMAs for Classical Recording of the Year, followed by Incarnation in 2018 and Perfect Light in 2019. Their newest album, Franz Schubert: Music for Violin and Piano was selected by CBC Music as one of “Canada’s Top 20 Classical Albums of 2020.”