We last spoke to old friend, music educator, classical guitar champion and Guitar Hamilton founder Emma Rush about her collaboration with James Bryan of the Philosopher Kings but this month, Hamilton’s premiere classical guitarist offers a new recording for a collaboration she’s had for a few years.
On their debut 2016 album, Romanza: Music of Spain and South America, Azuline Duo’s award–winning musicians Sara Traficante on flute and Emma Rush on guitar showcased the rich history of the guitar and the voice of the flute in an exciting chamber music setting. With their new album, Fandango, Azuline Duo hopes to further push the boundaries of their music, their musical instruments and conventional programming.
“We were both teaching at Redeemer when we met,” recalls Rush. “We were sharing a teaching studio but had never met face to face and after we met for a coffee, we talked about the idea of making music together and as soon as we did, it was a great fit and we’ve enjoyed working together since then. We’ve been working together for about six years really seriously and we've even toured coast to coast and into the US.\
“There is a lot of music for guitar and flute but we don’t play a lot from what’s already out there,” adds Rush. “We focus on our own arrangements of sometimes orchestral music or music that’s been written for other instruments. We sort of find what fits our musical vibe. What we want to do with our instruments is find every way to use them and make the most different sounds that we can get out of them. I do loads of percussion with the guitar and Sara does vocals through the flute. We’re always looking for new ways to really bring a new voice as an ensemble to whatever repertoire we’re working on.”
As premiere musicians and educators, Azuline Duo has somewhat of a different mandate for getting their music out there and when touring, the mindset is a little different.
“We tour Canada, often in rural places and our mission is to bring really exciting live classical music to people that maybe don’t hear it that often, whether it’s because of their location or they think they don’t like it,” laughs Rush. “We always do a program that would please classical music fans but if you’re unsure about it and you come to our concert we make you ready to hear more music. We’re not forcing it on people but we’re offering a show that can appeal to a wide range of people.”
Their mindset for recording may have been more cosmopolitan with wide appeal and while the duo has toured across the continent, it’s all Hamilton based for Azuline Duo with Fandango recorded here and even offering a new original track from a Hamiltonian songwriter. Produced by Kirk Starkey, Fandango has new arrangements of baroque guitar music from Spain, tunes by bad ass Brazilian composer Chiquinha Gonzaga, and even a new piece by Hamilton composer Jeffrey McFadden.
“The music still fits in the chamber music definition for a small ensemble category with the obvious example being a string quartet but we offer something a little different for more intimate locations,” says Rush. “We wanted to continue the momentum from our first record but while we were focused on music from Spain and Latin America, we’ve branched out with some great Celtic music, Macedonian music and even Hamilton music. We have more instruments used on this album and even some brief moments of singing.
“Hamiltonian Jeffrey McFadden wrote an original track for flute and guitar and we were actually the first people to record that song and includes those few moments for two voices singing,” adds Rush. “Jeff is quite well known as a classical guitarist and really is an incredible composer. I don't know if he had us in mind for the song but we definitely got the score as soon as it was available and I hope he’s happy that we’re playing it.”
With the tenth anniversary for the Guitar Hamilton International Guitar Festival set for July, Rush is bringing classical guitar concerts throughout the year to Hamilton stages with the Azuline Duo offering their performance at what will be the new home for the festival this year.
“I really love the Staircase Theatre and their management,” says Rush. “It has a great vibe and offers a lot of great space with an intimate theatre and smaller theatres on site and some break out rooms. It’s a great fit for the festival concerts, lessons and workshops and so more of the shows we’re doing including the official release party for this CD.
“The Staircase has a really relaxed vibe so if you have in your mind the idea that a classical music concert might be uptight or stuffy — this is not going to be that experience,” adds Rush. “There will be a wide variety of music and lots of energy from our show and we love to engage with our audiences and talk about the music, the instruments or anything that comes up. We basically want to have a great time with the audience and have everyone be feeling that we all had a great night together.”
Guitar Hamilton presents Azuline Duo on Sunday February 23 February at the Staircase Theatre. Show starts promptly at 7:30 pm and 2020 from tickets are $20 for students and $30 but seating is limited so advance tickets are recommended at the venue or by calling 905.807.4792. Click on azulineduo.com