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Arts smart

By David Sorensen

Duo Concertante has received the top honour from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.

Violinist Nancy Dahn and pianist Timothy Steeves were named artist of the year award at the May 1 ceremony, held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

The pair, who teach at the School of Music, have performed as Duo Concertante since 1997.

They did not know they won the top prize until the awards show.

“We had just finished working on a classical music video in Calgary and had taken a red eye flight in order to get to Labrador,” the married couple explained in an e-mail to the Gazette. “We were really thrilled to get the award though I'm not sure how articulate we were in our acceptance speech!”

Dahn and Steeves said Duo Concertante have always tried to bring classical music to a broader audience, and said this award could be evidence that they’ve succeeded on this front.

“We also think that there is a passionate audience for classical music in Newfoundland and Labrador as it's been part of the culture here for a very long time, actually.”

Dr. Tom Gordon, who as director of the School of Music has worked with the pair for almost 10 years, said the artist of the year award brings Duo Concertante’s recognition “at home” to the same level of appreciation that they enjoy across the country and around the world.

“And it’s another chance for the province to see how much the musicians based at Memorial bring to our community lives,” he said.

The Arts Council celebrated its 25th annual Arts Awards at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay May 1. Six awards were presented, honouring the accomplishments of Newfoundland and Labrador’s artists.

Along with Duo Concertante, winners are: Arts in Education Award: Manfred (Mannie) Buchheit (visual artist/photographer); Patron of the Arts Award: Wallace Hammond (audio and lighting operator); Hall of Honour Award: The Flummies (musical group); Hall of Honour Award: Helen Fogwill Porter (writer); Rogers Arts Achievement Award: Des Walsh (writer, musician, and actor); and CBC Emerging Artist Award: Chad Pelley (writer).

Nominations for the awards are submitted by the arts community, arts organizations, and the general public. Members of the NLAC vote by secret ballot to select the finalists and winners.

Winners of the Artist of the Year, Emerging Artist, Arts in Education, and Arts Achievement Awards receive a $2,000 cash prize and a piece of artwork.
For Duo Concertante, life as full-time faculty members and performing artists continues at its regular busy pace. There will be “lots of touring, new commissions, this music video, and more CDs,” they explained.

Next year, they will perform in Ontario, B.C., Manitoba, England, Germany and possibly China.

“We have a new CD slated for release this fall with works written for us by Murray Schafer, Chan Ka Nin and Kati Agocs and it's narrated by Barbara Budd.
“That should keep us busy.”

The pair also took the opportunity to plug the Tuckamore Festival, held each summer in St. John’s, where they teach, perform and serve as artistic directors.
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