Scottish guitarist Matthew McAllister says he wouldn’t necessarily recommend that all duo partners should marry each other.
But it has certainly worked well for him and his Irish flautist wife Aisling Agnew who together make up The Agnew McAllister Duo, the latest guests in Chichester’s Amici Concerts series.
“Aisling is a wonderful flautist, and we met when we were studying at the Royal Scottish Academy. We formed a duo early on, and we played together for years and years before we decided we should get married. Our collaboration was musical at first and then it got romantic. It was all subconscious, I guess! Aisling got a place at the Guildhall to do her masters, and she was moving down to London, and I suppose we realised what was going on in the background. We have been married for about two and a half years, but we have been playing together for something like 16.
“Music is about understanding what the other person is doing and about being able to support each other, and sometimes you are understanding what is better for the greater good. I would say that the skills of playing music together are quite transferable to marriage!
“Music in itself is an entity that is separate. It is not something that is there before. You create it in the moment and then it is gone, and again that is something you are sharing.” It is also a good marriage of instruments: “In terms of chamber music, flute and guitar is quite a new combination. People think chamber music and they might think string quartet or piano trio, the really, really well-established combinations that have existed for years. Flute and guitar is much more new.
“In South America, that style of music has been popular for a long time, and there is a lot of repertoire from Brazil, Argentina, Peru and so on, but there is not so much repertoire from Germany, France, Holland or even the UK. But it is a growing combination, which makes it very exciting for new young composers – far better to write something for flute and guitar than to go up against Haydn! We get a lot of music that is written for us as well as music that comes from the 20th century onwards.
“We also do a lot of transcriptions of works by people like Bach and Vivaldi. You can do on a guitar everything you can do a harpsichord and maybe a little bit more.”
Matthew points to the similarity between guitar and flute in the point of creation of the note: “We work a lot as a duo on establishing that point of articulation, and from then on, it is really exciting. You are like a painter, working with shade and sound and colour.”
They are promising a varied programme at St Pancras Church, Eastgate Square, Chichester on Thurs, March 23 at 7.30pm (01243 775888 or www.ticketsource.co.uk).
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