The Schubert Songs performed today are beloved favourites but not from the large cycles, Die Schöne Müllerin or Winterreise, as it never feels right to perform those songs out of context. Though Schwanengesang is sometimes done as a cycle, it was not composed as one, so “Ständchen” is included this evening as well as the wonderful “Der Doppelgänger” (performed for the first time by this duo) at the end of the program.
Barbara Ebbeson and Alix Nishihara began their musical partnership 24 years ago on Gabriola Island with a small weekly concert series they called Music for a While. After Alix moved to Vancouver, they continued to collaborate occasionally while pursuing separate musical interests. Alix has worked and toured with many other musicians and singers in diverse musical genres as well as with contemporary dance companies, and is one half of the duo AlAl with shakuhachi player Alcvin Ramos. Barbara has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, many other pianists and collaborated with Leslie Dala to perform a one woman show - Cabaret Canada! – at the Vancouver New Music Festival. In addition to pursuing her work as a visual artist, Barbara loves to perform New Music, in particular, the Cabaret Songs written for her by composer Rodney Sharman. Throughout their work together, Alix and Barbara relied on their dear coach and mentor the late Canadian pianist, Harold Douglas Brown, for interpretive and technical help in all repertoire. Based on insights gleaned from those sessions, this duo later developed a uniquely Canadian interpretation of Winterreise. (Barbara also had the privilege of performing that great cycle with Harold at the keyboard when he was 88 years old!) In recent years, this duo has begun to play together often again, in performances of the large Schubert cycles, and other 19th century song repertoire, including “Haugtussa” by Edvard Greig.