Kind words and reviews
The unusual and exciting combination
of soprano and double bass has an
ideal advocate in the Departure Duo.
Nina and Eddie are superb musicians,
and they perform their modernist and sometimes experimental repertoire with conviction, flair,
- Fred Lerdahl, composer
Photo by Kate Nottage
Departure Duo is a terrific group of two friends, collaborators, new music lovers, explorers and deep musicians. They’re the High and the Low, the sonic yin and yang, and revel in that duality, enjoy the space between and collapse the space between. From Kurtag to Jaeger, they make excellent music and have a whole lot of fun doing it. Go listen with open ears…….
- Lisa Saffer, soprano; faculty, New England Conservatory
What Eddie and Nina do in the Departure Duo is inspired and world class. With a fearless approach to daunting materials, constant versatility and an allegiance to the composer, their performances immediately connect with audiences. They are sought after by composers and venues for their unique and dedicated performances, instrumental prowess and expressive gifts.
- Todd Seeber, double bass, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Departure Duo bring an infectious enthusiasm to everything they play. Fearless explorers of the strange and beautiful sound-world that is voice and double bass, they are a joy to collaborate with, and a force to be reckoned with.
- Shawn Jaeger, composer; Princeton University Arts Fellow
Nina and Eddie are the very best kind of chamber musicians - they have technical skills to burn and deep care and love of the music they perform. They are absolutely mesmerizing to watch, and their gleefully ambitious commissioning project promises to create a delightful canon of works for their odd-couple instrumentation.
- Liz Pearse, soprano, Quince Vocal Ensemble
Nina and Eddie perform with stunning energy, precision, and passion.
They’ve made their high / low duo a dream ensemble for me and other composers with their versatility of sound and exuberant virtuosity.
- Katherine Balch, composer
For a composer, the Departure Duo of Nina and Eddie is a dream come true: disarmingly free of pretension, and intensely engaged from the start, having already breathlessly surmounted any technical challenge, their apparent desire is simply to develop and project clearly and vividly and passionately the character of a musical idea, which then seems, with their collaboration and nurturing, to blossom quickly, and with wonderfully unforeseen beauties. In the presence of their vibrant energy and seemingly inexhaustible good humor, working with them is, for me, pure pleasure.
And alternatively, then, as a civilian audience member, attending their performance of another’s quite different music, I was struck once again not only by the consistently maintained intensity and power of their performance, but also by how they adapted so naturally such qualities and abilities as I knew to be theirs to remarkably different effect, with apparent ease, as though this other music, too, were to them entirely, instinctively intrinsic. So now, for me, whether as composer or as listener, trusting myself and my music to their interpretive care will be something I’ll be looking forward to, every time.
- Stephen Dembski, composer; retired faculty, University of Wisconsin, Madison
A double bass and a soprano walk into a bar. This might sound like the start of an odd musician joke. But it is the opening scene of some Departure Duo concerts I have seen. The instrumentation might seem a gimmick - high and low pitch, oversized and diminutive—a study in contrasts. But Departure is far more than a gimmick and so much more than the sum of these parts. Edward and Nina rehearse and perform together and have for years. They share a passion for the music and bring it to palpable life in every performance. They are actively expanding the repertoire for soprano and double bass.
With such tight, cohesive performances, why wouldn’t composers line up to write for them?
Several times now I have heard Departure perform Fred Lerdahl’s “Fire and Ice.” Each time I hear more nuance and depth. Thanks to Nina Guo’s stage presence and attention to musical phrase, coupled with Edward Kass’ acute musical sensibility and nuanced phrasing, this is an evocative, a haunting piece when they perform it. More recently they gave Katherine Balch’s “Phrases” an airing, capturing the delightful soundscape of harmonics, expanding the range of possibilities and opening up new and exciting musical vistas. In John Liberatore’s “Plain Truths from Timothy Dexter” harmonics and prepared instruments give colorful life to eccentric wisdom—a perfect foil to György Kurtág, Einige Sätze aus den Sudelbüchern Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs, which started this duo and their project of commissioning more work for soprano and double bass. In the Kurtág there is the breadth of a symphony, a kaleidoscope of colors, and the panoply of resonances a listener expects from a larger chamber ensemble. Such richness compressed into this composer’s accustomed morsels.
Hearing Departure Duo is always a revelation, always a treat, always a delight.
- Cashman Kerr Prince, General Manager, Music for Food; reviewer, Boston Musical Intelligencer