When DC-area cellist Natalie Spehar met Canadian musicians Nikola Ragusa and Amelie Brodeur (both flutists; Amelie also plays other instruments), they found a lot of common ground as artists and decided to play together in Nat’s hometown of DC (BTW, they are also planning to do a show in Canada), and had such a blast with the performance that they have decided to do an album (which is slated to include the music of Villa-Lobos, Astor Piazolla and Marc Mellits), and with the help of IndieGoGo and you guys, they will be able to fund the packaging of the album. You can donate to this campaign up here or on the bottom. By the way, at this time, the name of the ensemble has yet to be fully decided (I think they should go with Écouter).
Natalie and Nikola had a few minutes to discuss the project.
CM: How did this project come about?
Natalie: This project was the result of a spectacular “tweet-up” really! 🙂 Nikola and I met about a year ago when his online blog, Arts Avenue, was launched, and he interviewed me for a feature on the site. We had a great conversation and it was obvious to me right away that we shared a similar interest and enthusiasm for managing the administrative and marketing end of a freelance music career–and in particular, making connections and collaborations happen over the wonderful social media networks available today.
So, when Nikola and Amelie decided to take a tour that dipped into the US, we knew right away that we had to find a chance to really take our international friendship to the next level, and create something special that we could share with other music lovers. I jumped on booking one of my favorite recital spots in DC, Church of the Holy City, whose directors do a wonderful job themselves of sharing unique performances with the DC community–and we picked some rep, set dates, and made it happen! We had a great turn out and a wonderful time getting to know each other in the process, and knew right afterward that we needed to pursue the chance to do it again. This time, we’re flipping the travel adventure–and I’m going to Canada! We are looking forward to sharing music that we love with audiences there–and also investing time in our first recordings together to commemorate this friendship.
Nikola: Right after our concert in Washington, DC this past July 11th, we were in the reception talking about how we should do more stuff together. I suggested Natalie should come up and play with us here in Montreal. Along with that, I mentioned that we can cut an album while she’s here. We had the studio all ready here in the office, and she said “Yeah lets do it.”
CM: I like the look of the program–Why these particular pieces?
Nikola: It’s music of our time period. Which I still think isn’t play enough! We put some modern (Mellits), early contemporary (Villa-Lobos) and tango (Piazzolla) as our anchor pieces. Will also do some other Latin tunes and other worldly music. My personal goal is to make it as “new”, “fresh” and “creative” as possible. Adding colors that might not have been explored before with these tunes.
Natalie: I really enjoy the combination of flute & cello, and so I had no shortage of pieces to suggest when we first started brainstorming! The pieces do have special meaning as well for all of us! In my own case, I had the pleasure of working and performing with Marc Mellits, a current composer and educator that I really respect. His music is full of energized, complex interlocking rhythms and catchy riffs, and I am always game for the challenge! The Villa-Lobos, “Assabio a Jato (Jet Whistle)”, is a real work of art and a piece that I’ve watched some of my favorite mentors perform over the years. The first movement instantly transports my imagination to a cafe in Paris, and the experience of playing the entire work with Amelie especially is a tremendous treat 🙂 Among the pieces that we’ll be recording and performing on this Canadian tour, there will also be some tango included, as it is a creative outlet & genre that we all love to explore in improvisation and performance–musical food for the soul for sure 🙂
CM: What are you calling this ensemble if it goes any further? It’s not actually called 3 Musicians doing a Debut album Together?
Nikola: I had to make a title for the campaign. I thought it was a good catchy line for people to check out the page. The title we worked with during the tour was the french word “Ecouter” or “Listen” in english. We might keep it for the album, we might not. You’ll just to wait and see.
Natalie: The title for the program in DC was Écouter (french ~ “Listen [to]”) and we plan to adopt that for the CA tour as well. The DC concert was a very intimate and exciting performance & listening experience, and I expect our collaboration will continue in that special way!
CM: What about the latin and tango pieces that are supposed to be surprises? Can you reveal anything about some of them?
Nikola: It’s just that North America is where tango and latin have exploded in popularity recently. Plus all the the music on the album is from the Americas, which is something I wanted to promote. I’m hoping we can play some favorites that people recognize in a energetic and awesome way. Contrary to belief, trios can still make a shit load of sound. What I want people to know is that will be devoting a good chunk of time to really getting the music right. We’re three individuals that know what type of sound we want, and all in many different ways. Which makes this project so awesome to produce. But if your wanting to know, what are the other tunes? You’ll just have to check the updates on the Indiegogo site, and our new twitter (@ecouterlisten) to see what tunes will be releasing. But with the 4-5 tunes already confirmed will be adding hopefully another 5.
Natalie: I will keep my lips zipped until final decisions are made, but as I mentioned– we do share a special love for tango, and you’d be surprised at how complete it can sound with just 2 flutes + cello! We shared Milonga del Angel with our audience in DC, and man was it fun. Performing Piazzolla, especially surrounded by passionate artists, is just one of the best experiences there is. 🙂