Duo Noire is a “virtuosic pair” (I Care if You Listen) of the pioneering American classical guitarists, Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett. Focusing on audience-friendly contemporary music, their concerts offer “profoundly enjoyable” genre-bending repertoire with “spectacular precision” (St. Louis Post- Dispatch).
After their 2014 EP release, FIGMENTS, featuring Juilliard professor Raymond Lustig’s masterful 30-minute composition for the duo, Duo Noire gained international prominence with the 2018 release of their full-length debut album, Night Triptych, on New Focus Recordings. Named as an Editor’s Choice for top classical music albums of 2018 by both All Music and I Care if You Listen, the album featured new works exclusively written for Duo Noire by accomplished women composers: GRAMMY-nominee Clarice Assad, Courtney Bryan, E.C.M. Artist Golfam Khayam, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Gity Razaz, and Gabriella Smith. The project was launched with a 2015 grant from the Diller-Quaile School of Music to help the duo make classical guitar concerts more gender-inclusive. The album was hailed as an “astounding…goldmine of ideas and feelings” (Stereophile), a “marvelous recital” (Limelight Magazine), “truly pathbreaking” (All Music), and “an important disc” (The Arts Fuse).
Recent and upcoming projects include giving the world premiere of GRAMMY-nominee Nathalie Joachim’s new work for Duo Noire, filming a premiere recording at Severance Hall with members of The Cleveland Orchestra, and premiering new works by virtuoso Yale guitar professor Benjamin Verdery and U.C. Santa Cruz composition professor Karlton Hester.
Duo Noire’s work has been featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Classical Guitar Magazine, the Guitar Foundation of America’s journal Soundboard, and Chamber Music Magazine. Their recordings have aired on radio stations nationwide, including WQXR’s New Sounds in NYC. Past highlights include fellowships for contemporary music at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute and the Norfolk Music Festival in Connecticut, as well as concerts at China’s Peking University, the 92 Street Y, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Georgetown University, the New York City and St. Louis Classical Guitar societies, the Omaha Under the Radar and April in Santa Cruz new music festivals, and at the Times Center playing for the MacDowell Colony.
Thomas and Christopher are graduates of the Yale School of Music. Their name is a combination of “Noir” (Black) and “La Noire” (quarter note).
A specialist in standard classical guitar as well as various early guitars and lutes, Elizabeth C. D. Brown is a very active performer in the United States. Highlights from recent seasons include performing at the Music by Women Festival, performing concertos by Vivaldi and Sierra and premiering a new work for guitar and orchestra with the Seattle Symphony. She has performed in operas by Purcell, Blow, Paisiello, Rossini and Verdi, as well as all of Monteverdi’s surviving operatic works. Elizabeth’s first solo recording, La Folia de España: Dances for Guitar, features works for baroque, 19th century, and modern guitars, and has been praised for its “…apparently effortless ease.” (Lute News, UK) She is also featured in the recording Dolce Desio as a member of the early music trio Le Nuove Musiche, and in the recording Navidad: Christmas in the New World with Seattle Pro Musica. Her second solo recording, In Her Honor, includes music from the Princess [Queen] Anne Guitarbook and the Elisabeth of Hesse Lutebook, as well as her own arrangements of works by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. An enthusiastic advocate for the guitar and lute, Elizabeth has given numerous outreach performances at schools, senior centers, and community centers for the Seattle Classic Guitar Society and the Early Music Seattle, as well as by arrangement while on tour. She is head of the Guitar and Lute program at Pacific Lutheran University, and has taught at Cornish College of the Arts and Seattle Pacific University.
With a repertoire spanning from J.S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti to Jimi Hendrix and Elliott Carter, Michael Nicolella is recognized as one of America’s most innovative classical guitarists. Described by Classical Guitar magazine as: “one of the contemporary guitar’s most gifted stars,” by Guitar Player magazine as a: “classical iconoclast, (who) continues to push the boundaries of the genre as both a composer and player,” and by the Washington Post as: “An artist with eclectic tastes and a contemplative bent…extraordinary…powerful.” He has received wide critical acclaim for his performances, recordings and compositions. As a concert artist, Michael has performed throughout North America, Europe and Japan as solo recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with orchestra.
Nicolella blurs the lines between musical styles and disciplines. He is part of a growing movement in classical music to revitalize the role of the composer/performer. As a concert artist he frequently programs his own music for guitar in solo, chamber and orchestral settings, including his works: Guitar Concerto (for classical guitar and orchestra), Ten Years Passed (for electric guitar and orchestra) and Flame of the Blue Star of Twilight (for soprano, guitar and orchestra). Known for his creative programming, he has introduced electric guitar into his “classical” programs and extended the repertoire and audience of his instrument not only with his own compositions and transcriptions, but also by premiering and commissioning works by some of today’s most exciting emerging composers. In reference to his abilities on the classical and electric guitar, noted guitar composer, scholar and critic John Duarte stated in an issue of Gramophone magazine that: “Others have ‘crossed the track’ in one direction or the other but none has done so with the technical and/or musical success as Nicolella, who, chameleon-like, achieves comparable distinction in both fields.”
Michael’s recording of his arrangement of the Complete Bach Cello Suites was described as a “monumental achievement” by Soundboard magazine while the Seattle Times commented “Nicolella’s smooth virtuosity and the great freedom of his playing … show the suites in an entirely new light.” His previous four critically acclaimed releases were albums of contemporary music for classical and electric guitar in solo, chamber, orchestral and electronic settings.
Nicolella has performed as soloist with such orchestras as: the Seattle Symphony, Symphony Tacoma and the Northwest Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with a wide range of artists including: Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Seattle Opera, Seattle Modern Orchestra, violinist Gil Shaham, sopranos Alexandra Picard and Joyce DiDonato, Broadway legends Bernadette Peters and Brian Stokes Mitchell, jazz vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, the Seattle Guitar Trio (which performed Michael’s groundbreaking arrangement of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring), as well as over one hundred concerts with the Seattle Symphony.
Michael is a graduate of Yale University, Berklee College of Music and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He is on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.
Raised in New York, David Feingold studied piano and French horn while playing guitar in R&B bands. His classical training on guitar began in high school, while he continued playing french horn in orchestras into college. His teachers included guitarist Ralph Towner, French hornist Arthur Berv and composer, David Maslanka.
Recently retired as Professor of Music from Western Washington University, during Feingold’s 40-year tenure he developed the curriculum for what has become the Classical Guitar Studies Program. Awarded Professor Emeritus, Feingold maintains a relationship with the University, and with the Department of Music that he chaired for 8 years.
As a guitarist, David continues to perform and will be featured in January 2023 at the Mount Baker Theater with the Bellingham Symphony performing Vivaldi’s Concerto in G, originally scored for two Mandolins. Feingold’s programs often include his own works for guitar, his arrangements of popular song as well as his own “short-form” compositions. Playing this music, some of it on nylon string with classical technique imparts a unique flavor especially with the addition of improvisation but also the integration of diverse musical influences that reflect his musical background.
Works for guitar include: Five Studies, Blue Fantasy, Song and Dance, Waltz in F, Music from Quixote, and Ballade Anadlou. Short-form compositions include: The Boardwalk, March of Mimes, Strung Tight (Ferlinghetti), Falling Dream.
Mark Hilliard Wilson
Mark Hilliard Wilson has an engaging approach to teaching and programing concerts that draws from the deep well of history and a desire to relate contemporary interests to universal themes. Born in Palo Alto, California in 1965 his childhood was spent moving every two years from Minnesota to Holland, to Washington DC to Payette, Idaho before his parents finally found their slice of heaven in Boise, Idaho. Mark continued to travel to Bellingham, Rochester and visit other countries before finding his base in Seattle in 1995. He founded the Seattle Guitar Orchestra in 2000 and became the cathedral guitarist at St. James Cathedral in Seattle 2006. He has taught at Whatcom Community College, Bellevue College, the Rosewood Guitar and is currently at the Holy Names Academy, his compositions are published by Seconda Prattica and performed widely. Recently Wilson premiered a concerto written for him by the Ukrainian composer Oleg Boyko. Wilson will be directing Guitar ensembles in the premier of a work he commissioned from Boyko at the 2023 Northwest Guitar Festival in Bellingham, Wa. 2023 will see the release of The Music of Taiwo Adegoke, Changing the canon of the classical guitar with music from Nigeria. Music for Seattle Guitar Orchestra and cello and classical guitar featuring cellist Abbie Eads. You can find these on all platforms and videos too on Mark’s Patreon site.