We’re often asked, “What’s the story behind Duo Sequenza?” After all, any successful musical partnership is as much about your collaboration onstage as it is offstage. Ours is a story with roots that go back more than three decades, and we love to share it.
The early days
It all started in 1988, when two young musicians formed a flute and classical guitar duo. We loved how we played together and enjoyed the repertoire—but that wasn’t all. We had a vision to entice new listeners into concert halls. For six seasons we toured, premiering new American works for flute and classical guitar in concert halls and music festivals in the US, Asia, and Europe.
Then, life carried us in different directions, as it sometimes does. I (Debra) took a break from performing to care for—and unschool—my four children. Paul moved to Europe, where he continued his performance career.
The years went by—21 of them in all. During this time, we even lost touch. And it’s no wonder—the world changed during these two decades. Email and text messages replaced letters. The world of classical music changed, too. As audiences declined, numerous chamber music presenters simply vanished. Artist managers and agencies closed their doors as the demand for talent dwindled.
A return, and the present
As the demands of motherhood changed, and life took another turn, I began to feel the pull of the classical music world again. I began to renew lost connections with colleagues. I went to the National Flute Association Convention for the first time in years. This annual event for players, composers, and vendors is one of the world’s largest gatherings of flutists.
I was also thinking about Paul, and about Duo Sequenza’s first act. Eventually, with help from friends, I tracked him down in Europe. In January 2015, we together decided to pick up where we left off.
We knew, though, that our path back to the stage wouldn’t be easy. Organizations were presenting fewer chamber music concerts, and competition was fierce.
Where others would have seen adversity, though, we saw opportunity. We saw the need for a classical revolution, starting right in our own backyard, the South Shore region of Lake Michigan! We’d put down roots in Indiana long ago: Paul grew up in picturesque Chesterton nestled in the Indiana Dunes, and I came to Valparaiso at 17...and never left.
We also had the ideal opportunity to celebrate: Indiana’s Bicentennial in December 2016. A major piece of new music for flute and guitar featuring regional themes seemed a grand idea! South Shore Suite by Jorge Muniz premiered at Valparaiso's Memorial Opera House in January 2017, helping put us back on the stages of our state.
In the years since, South Shore Suite has been a cornerstone piece of our repertoire. It’s been the basis of our “Journey Beyond the Notes,” the audience Interactive concert experience that brings listeners inside the music through engaging participatory activities. We’ve toured and performed it throughout the country. And, in our second act of performing together, we’ve also premiered other works by notable composers, including Gary Schocker’s Crystal Healing and Dorothy Hindman's Untitled IV. Jerry Owen’s Pimpaalitaawi Neekawikamionki is still awaiting its premiere courtesy of COVID. (And there are more wonderful works yet to come!)
We’ve also found a very special pairing of my Laurent crystal flute and classical guitar. Our performances with this flute consistently draw larger, more diverse audiences, and we’re excited to see where compositions incorporating this unique instrument take us—and you—musically.
Through our many years of playing together—before and after our hiatus—we’ve always remained dedicated to our vision of bringing new listeners to classical music.
We’ve been through a very challenging two years, with much uncertainty still in our present. This time has been especially difficult for performing artists of all disciplines, as in-person events have been few and far between.
As we see it, though, there is reason to hope. Our musical journey together began nearly 35 years ago, and through this time, we’ve come to see how wonderful and much-needed classical music is. A live performance happens in space and time, never to be repeated. It simply must be experienced. We know it’s special, and our dedication to taking you on a memorable journey as a listener has never been stronger.
We’ve also learned how music can soothe the soul, making the bumps in life’s road somehow easier to bear. We’re moving forward with our recording projects, including our second album and our planned crystal flute album. And we hope to see you in a concert hall sometime in 2022.