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Astralis Duo

New Orleans, LA         

Featuring pianist Katalin Lukács and vocalist Stephanie Aston, Astralis Duo strives to make music by living composers accessible to diverse audiences, seeks to provide innovative and unique concert experiences, and works to promote the works of women composers. Astralis Duo is highly intentional in how it achieves these three goals.

Recognizing that much contemporary music is intellectually, culturally, and economically inaccessible to many audiences, Astalis Duo actively commissions young composers to create new works that are reflective of the socio-cultural values, traditions, and folkways of the community they will be premiered in. Whenever possible, economic barriers are removed by making performances free and open to the public.

Astralis Duo also works to ensure an innovative and unique concert experience for their audiences. This is accomplished partially through their programming, which often blurs the lines between typically disparate musical genres by overlaying a commissioned ambient or narrative video work over a pairing of contemporary compositions with traditional classical music, jazz, or pop.

Promoting the works of contemporary female composers is also important to Astralis and they actively seek out and perform the works of underrepresented 20th and 21st century women composers. Past performances have included the works of Betsy Jolas, Kari Besharse, Chen-Hui Jen, and others.

Their first collaboration as Astralis Duo came in the project Life and Afterlife in 2014. This concert, which explored the cycle of love, life, and life after death, featured Astralis’ first commissioned work, “Siren Meditation One” by Rick Snow. Additional works performed in this project were Kari Besharse’s Four Songs, Nicholas Deyoe’s “5 McCallum Songs,” and Olivier Messiaen’s monumental 30 minute song cycle “Poèmes pour Mi.” Described as “instantly dramatic and emotional,” Life and Afterlife was performed at Tulane University and at Southeastern Louisiana University.

The National Performance Network (NPN) is the fiscal sponsor of Astralis Duo.

KARI BESHARSE: FOUR SONGS

Kari Besharse’s “Four Songs” were set on poetry by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Donald Justice. The poems overlay everyday situations with deeper thoughts on the fleeting character of life, the seaming reality of the world of dreams, the themes of passing, departure.
Recorded in concert at Tulane University Recital Hall, on March 31st, 2014, with live video projections by Peter Leonard.

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Nicholas Deyoe: 5 McCallum Songs (2011)

“Five McCallum Songs” by Nicholas Deyoe was composed for Stephanie Aston and Katalin Lukács, and performed and recorded in 2014. The songs are settings of poetry by a friend and fellow composer, Clinton McCallum.

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Rick Snow: Siren Meditation One (2014)

“Siren Meditation One” by Rick Snow is a work for soprano, piano, and live interactive computer sound commissioned by Astralis Duo. Its inspiration blooms from Tim Buckley and Larry Beckett’s work “Song to the Siren”, Buckley’s two recorded renditions of the work, and the “covers” later arranged and performed by many artists. The musical material and overall mood in Siren Meditation One seek to capture a meditative, floating quality inspired by the original song, the tragic beauty of its historical context, and the myth of the Sirens.

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