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Historical Piano Concerts Series
About the Musicians

The Orfeo Duo
Vita and Ishmael Wallace

The Orfeo Duo’s mission is to inspire and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds through music-making that expresses the breath of life. Vita and Ishmael Wallace are known for their close rapport with each other, power of communication, and creative programming ranging from Bach to today’s young composers. They’ve performed as the Orfeo Duo since 1984, giving concerts and leading workshops in the Americas and in Europe, and making numerous recordings.

In 1995 Vita and Ishmael made their European debut in Rapallo, Italy; in 1996 the United States Information Agency appointed them Artistic Ambassadors for the United States on a six-week tour of Latin America, and in 1997 they debuted in Carnegie Hall as participants in the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Workshop.

Chamber Music America has awarded The Orfeo Duo six straight years of residency grants for projects including improvisation and composition workshops for children in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and West Harlem. They have led numerous other workshops on improvisation, composition, and Baroque style, notably at Caramoor and at Camphill Village in Copake, NY.

The duo has CDs on the VAI Audio, Marquis Classics, Unacorda, and Vienna Modern Masters labels and also appears on Tzadik.

In 2003 the Wallaces began the eight-concert annual series, What a Neighborhood!, celebrating their own West Harlem neighborhood primarily through encouraging and inspiring living local composers, fostering appreciation of new American music, and creating a sense of community that includes all the diversity of the area. The series has received outstanding support from the community and grantors.

Vita Wallace plays baroque violin in Anima, ARTEK, Dryden Ensemble, Foundling, and Philomel, and is a frequent guest artist with other early music ensembles and festivals. She won the Felix Salzer Award at the Mannes College of Music, as a student of Felix Galimir.

Ishmael Wallace, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and Mannes College, studied with Richard Goode. First Prize winner in the MTNA Yamaha Piano Competition, Ishmael is also a composer whose works have won many national competitions. Commissioned by Continental Harmony, his cantata, The West Harlem Christ, celebrating West Harlem’s poor in their own words, was premiered in 2006. A second cantata, Being There for Others, a meditation on spirituality and community, was premiered in September, 2007; a third in the cycle, Mother and Child, will be premiered in September, 2008.

This is the Duo’s fifth Historical Piano Concerts recital.

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