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October 20, 2019 - 3:00 PM

Duo Diorama

MingHuan Xu, violin; and Winston Choi, piano

We open our 15th season by welcoming back Duo Diorama for an afternoon of violin and piano music. Xu and Choi are compelling and versatile artists who perform in an eclectic mix of musical styles, ranging from the great standard works to the avant-garde. It is a partnership with a startlingly fresh and powerful approach to music for violin and piano. They will be performing works by Beethoven, Ravel, Grieg, and a new work written for them by Chicago-based composer Igor Santos. 



DUO DIORAMA comprises Chinese violinist MingHuan Xu and Canadian pianist Winston Choi. They are compelling and versatile artists who perform in an eclectic mix of musical styles, ranging from the great standard works to the avant-garde. It is a partnership with a startlingly fresh and powerful approach to music for violin and piano. Comprised of two renowned soloists who can effectively blend their distinctive personalities together to create a unified whole, the duo maintains an active performing and touring schedule.

Their name "Duo Diorama" captures the couple's artistic ideals. In 19th-century Paris, the Diorama was a popular theater entertainment that prefigured cinema. A marvelous landscape scene - one telling the tale of some mythic event - was painted on linen and brought to life using dramatic effects o lighting (executed using sunlight redirected by a series of mirrors); such were the skills of its virtuoso light artists that the Diorama's scenes would appear to take on dimensionality and motion - to literally come alive. Duo Diorama seeks to bring sheets of music notation to life using similar sonic manipulations of color, feeling, and movement, thus transporting their listeners to realms of musical drama, profound emotions and inspiring aesthetic ideas.

Having performed extensively throughout Asia, North America, South America and Europe, Duo Diorama has gained a loyal following wherever they travel to. The duo’s recent appearances at the Colours of Music Festival, Ebb and Flow Arts, the GroundSwell Series, the Mammoth Lakes Music Festival and Walla Walla Music Festival were met with critical and audience acclaim. Their recent South American tour included performances at the Festival Musica Nova in Brazil and Festival Encuentros. As the inaugural recipients of the Banff Centre’s Rolston Fellowship in Music, they have recently toured throughout Canada, having performed in recital series from coast to coast. Recent concerts in China included the Central, Shenyang, and Sichuan Conservatories of Music, as well as Shandong University. In 2006 they gave their successful New York debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, as winners of Artists International Presentations’ “Special Chamber Music Award." A feature broadcast on the debut was covered by Voice of America, a weekly television program viewed by millions of people in Asia. They were also named Artists-in-Residence for the Chinese Fine Arts Society's 2011-2012 season.

Having already commissioned and premiered over 20 works in the last few years, Duo Diorama is a leading proponent of music of living composers. Their insightful and dynamic interpretations of music of living composers have established the duo as a true champion of contemporary music. They are committed to music from today’s culture and take a very personal approach to the presentation of these works – both those by the established modern masters and today’s emerging young composers. Composers they have commissioned include Marcos Balter, George Flynn, Derek Hurst, Gregory Hutter, Felipe Lara, Jacques Lenot, George Lewis, M. William Karlins, John Melby, Robert Morris, Robert Pollock, Huang Ruo, Daniel Weymouth, Amy Williams, Jay Alan Yim, and Mischa Zupko. They have also worked with composers William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Gunther Schuller, Bright Sheng and Chen Yi. Their many projects include performing multi-disciplinary works involving electronic media. By juxtaposing their performances with colorful commentary, Duo Diorama’s unique performances emphasize the relevance and vivacity of classical music. A husband and wife team, the duo makes their home in Chicago, with their twins Lillian and Ethan.

MINGHUAN XU performs extensively in recital and with orchestra in China and North America. She is also a highly sought-after chamber musician, having collaborated with the St. Petersburg Quartet, Colin Carr, Eugene Drucker, Ilya Kaler, and Ani Kavafian. She delights audiences wherever she performs with her passion, sensitivity and charisma. Xu was a winner of the Beijing Young Artists Competition and gave her New York debut at age 18 as soloist with the New York Youth Symphony Orchestra. Currently on faculty at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, she plays on a 1758 Nicolas Gagliano violin. 

WINSTON CHOI was Laureate of the 2003 Honens International Piano Competition (Canada) and winner of France’s 2002 Concours International de Piano 20e siècle d’Orléans. He regularly performs in recital and with orchestra throughout North America and Europe. A prolific recording artist, he can be heard on the Albany, Arktos, Crystal Records, l’Empreinte Digitale (piano works of Elliott Carter), Intrada and QuadroFrame labels. Formerly on the faculties of the Oberlin Conservatory and Bowling Green University, he is Associate Professor and Head of Piano at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.


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