Since 2006 the cello/piano duo martha & monica has consistently delighted Bay Area audiences with innovative programs and imaginative pairings of contemporary works and beloved masterpieces. The duo’s repertoire includes the great sonatas by Beethoven, Carter, and Debussy, significant twentieth-century works by Adès, Britten and Schnittke, to shorter works by Nadia Boulanger, Leoš Janáček, and transcriptions of vocal music – Poulenc, Wagner – as well as an ever-increasing body of newly commissioned works.
martha & monica has been presented regularly throughout the Bay Area on Old First Concerts, Berkeley Chamber Performances, Trinity Chamber Concerts, OpenSoundWest at the Center for Contemporary Music and Audio Technologies, sfSoundSeries, the El Dorado Community Music Series, as well as the annual showcase Music Day Live + Free, presented by the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, performing to capacity crowds at the San Francisco Conservatory, Temple Emanu-El, the DeYoung Museum, and Herbst Theater. They have also enjoyed performing at ZBelow, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and in historic buildings and public spaces throughout the Bay Area, including the Falkirk Mansion, the Berkeley Piano Club, the Forest Hills Clubhouse, and the residence of the French Consul. The duo is dedicated to teaching and mentoring young artists, and have enjoyed participating as artist/coaches in the “Encounters” program at the Nueva School, through the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, as well as in the chamber music program at the Crowden School in Berkeley. They have received grants from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.
martha & monica is strongly committed to performing and commissioning new work; recent seasons featured several new works written especially for them: Robert Greenberg’s “Lemurs are Afraid of Fossas,” was premiered in April of 2012 as part of Composers’ Inc “Riffs and Refuge” program; two new works: Matt Ingalls’ “Duo, Op. 2/2” and Omid Zoufonoun’s “Sonata” were premiered in 2012 and 2013. In November of 2014 they presented a world premiere by Matthew Goodheart: “for piano and cello(s).” “Out of the Box,” a 3-day long festival in February of 2016, presented at ZBelow – the old home of A Traveling Jewish Theater, under ZSpace – featured a world premiere performance of “Elliptic” by Chris Burns, written especially for the duo, and a US premiere of “Tremulous Couplings” by Jonty Harrison.
2014-2015 featured “Turns of Centuries,” a year-long residency at Old First. Over three programs, the duo explored music written for cello and piano just before and after the turn of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and influences on composers from disparate countries and cultures (Poland, England, Germany, Russia, United States.) Each program featured a guest moderator (art historian John Zarobel, composers Erik Ulman and Thomas Adès, and author Sylvia Brownrigg) in live onstage conversation through the lens of politics, art and culture. The first program was presented in January of 2014; the final two programs were performed in November of 2014 and February of 2015.
In 2016 martha & monica returned to a love: commissioning and performing new work, presented alongside contemporary compositions. Over one weekend, the duo performed three different programs (Morton Feldman’s “Patterns in a Chromatic Field” was a major contribution to the festival.) of over eleven works, some written specifically for the duo.
martha & monica’s premiere CD includes Elliott Carter’s masterpiece “Sonata” (1948), music of Beethoven, “Piece” by Nadia Boulanger, and the duo’s own transcription of three Poulenc songs.
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