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Fun-Loving Blue Violet Duo Blossoms with Debut CD of American Works for Violin and Piano

September 17, 2018 | By Nat Silverman
Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR

The Chicago-based Blue Violet Duo of violinist Kate Carter and pianist Louise Chan makes its recording debut with American Souvenirs, an album of  jazz, blues, and dance-influenced classical works from the mid-to-late 20th century by American composers Norman Dello Joio, William Bolcom, John Adams, and Paul Schoenfeld.

The duo’s self-released album will be available September 21, 2018, domestically and internationally, as a physical CD from Amazon.com, arkivmusic.com, and CDBaby.com; as an MP3 download from iTunes and other sites; and will stream on Spotify, Pandora, and other platforms.

“We love performing lesser-known works that are fun and playful, yet virtuosic, and which don’t take themselves too seriously,” the artists say. “That suits our personalities perfectly.”

On American Souvenirs, the Blue Violet Duo offers Dello Joio’s Variations and Capriccio, from 1948; Bolcom’s Second Sonata for Violin and Piano, from 1978; John Adams’s Road Movies, from 1995; and Schoenfeld’s Four Souvenirs for Violin and Piano, from 1990.

Favorite Works

“These are among our favorite works by American composers,” the duo says. “They’re unfamiliar to many concertgoers, but everyone ends up loving them.”

Dello Joio (1913–2008) wrote Variations and Capriccio during the same period he was collaborating with pioneering choreographer and modern dancer Martha Graham. The work’s lilting and rhythmic elements show a dance influence. Bolcom (b. 1938) employs “jazz, blues, and a more jagged, tonally ambivalent style” in his four-movement Second Sonata for Violin and Piano, as described in the album’s liner notes. The final movement, a tribute to jazz and swing violinist Joe Venuti, sees Bolcom using his own dry wit to capture Venuti’s famed sense of humor by weaving slides, harmonics, and rhythmic interruptions into the music. Adams (b. 1947) evokes the open highway in his three-movement Road Movies, powered by his idiosyncratic minimalist style. For his Four Souvenirs for Violin and Piano, Schoenfeld (b. 1947) draws from two Latin dances, the samba and tango, and the sounds of 1920s American Tin Pan Alley popular music, as well as square dance.

American Souvenirs was partially supported by a grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Recording Team

American Souvenirs was produced by Frank Babbitt, a multifaceted musician and violist with the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra. Recording engineer was Bill Maylone, recipient of multiple Grammy Award nominations. The album was recorded in Gottlieb Hall at the Merit School of Music in Chicago, August 2017.

Blue Violet Duo

The Blue Violet Duo was formed in Chicago in 2013 by American violinist Kate Carter, a native of Los Alamitos, Calif., and Canadian pianist Louise Chan, a native of Ottawa, Ontario.

The duo has performed in recital series throughout the Chicago area, including twice at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, which showcases emerging classical musicians. The duo’s Myra Hess concerts, in 2016 and 2017, aired live over WFMT radio.

The duo made its debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2014 under the auspices of the American Protégé competition, in which Carter was a prize winner.

Originally known as the Carter-Chan Duo, the Blue Violet Duo is named for Illinois’s state flower. The duo’s website is www.bluevioletduo.com.

Both artists earned master’s degrees in performance during the same period at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y., but they didn’t make each other’s acquaintance until a chance encounter at  Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music in Evanston, Ill., where both were pursuing doctorates. They share similar tastes, temperaments, and musical interests, including a deep curiosity about the duo repertoire.

Carter has appeared as soloist with the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, where she serves as assistant concertmaster, and with other American orchestras. She’s performed internationally as a member of Camerata Chicago and with the Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland. She’s recorded with Camerata Chicago, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and Chicago’s Ensemble Nouvelle Époque. She’s on faculty at Northwestern University Music Academy and Lake Forest College in Illinois. Her website is www.fearlessfiddler.com.

Chan is a past winner of the Canadian Music Competition and has appeared as soloist with the National Arts Orchestra Centre Orchestra and Northwestern Summer Orchestra. She has been principal pianist of the Madison Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin and is a keyboardist with the Milwaukee Symphony. She is on the piano faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago and is a member of Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music’s College of Examiners. Her website is www.louisechanpianist.com.



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