Performing a rare and eclectic repertoire on both classical and electric guitars, Jamie Balmer and Joseph Ricker as Duo Orfeo are emerging as one of the most distinctive voices in the classical music world.
Duo Orfeo draw their repertoire largely from under-explored byways of Western musical tradition both past and present, ranging from Renaissance lute and French Baroque harpsichord music to compositions by such modern masters as Arvo Pärt, Federico Mompou, Steve Reich, and Valentin Silvestrov. This ever-expanding body of music includes many of their own arrangements of works written for other instruments, as well as works written for the ensemble of guitar duo.
Orfeo perform their unique repertoire on classical guitars with an approach inspired by the tradition of Andrés Segovia (which they learned from Phillip de Fremery, a guitarist and teacher who studied with Segovia and a true curator of his legacy) and also on vintage electric guitars through tube amplifiers, creating a new sound that is all their own by playing these instruments (normally associated with styles outside of classical music) with the finesse, clarity, and focused touch of classical musicians.
Duo Orfeo have toured extensively throughout the eastern U.S., earning the approval of audiences and the highest praise from presenters. They have recently been hosted on concert series at Washington College, Bates College, St. Vincent College, La Grua Center, and Shippensburg University, among many others. Following their dynamic performances, Duo Orfeo have been lauded by concert presenters as having conjured “a synergy which transports the listener,” and as being “one of the few young guitar ensembles to watch.” Alongside pianist Oni Buchanan and trombone quartet Guidonian Hand, Duo Orfeo recently collaborated with brilliant kinetic sculptor Arthur Ganson on the performance/installation art project “Machines” in Boston and New York City. Additionally, Duo Orfeo eagerly perform in jazz cafés, book shops, farmers’ markets, art galleries, union halls, and other non-traditional venues, and they enjoy a strong local following in their hometowns of Boston and Northampton, MA. Active teachers both, Joe and Jamie strive to incorporate their interest in education and outreach into their work as a performing duo, and their offerings include guitar masterclasses and interactive children’s concerts.
Duo Orfeo have released three recordings to date. 2012′s I sing the body electric is their landmark first essay on electric guitars and features their arrangements of works by John Cage, Federico Mompou, Arvo Pärt, Erik Satie, and Valentin Silvestrov. This album was produced by the recording artist, composer, and inventor of the archguitar, Peter Blanchette. 2009′s Duo Orfeo includes several of Joe and Jamie’s favorite acoustic selections – music of Frédéric Chopin, Radamés Gnattali, Francesco Da Milano, Federico Mompou, and Erik Satie. Their breakout debut, The Grace Sessions (2005), features music of Bach, Brahms, Boccherini, and Albéniz. It was recorded live and unedited in a midnight marathon session in Grace Episcopal Church, Amherst, MA.
Joe Ricker and Jamie Balmer formed Duo Orfeo in 2005, taking their name from Orpheus, the poet and musician of Greek myth. Deeply enamored with the sonority of their chosen instruments and relentlessly searching out the music most in harmony with their expressive sensibilities, Duo Orfeo bring to life a world of sound that is intimate, charming, subtle, and haunting.
Antoine Lhoyer, Duo Concertant in E minor Op. 31, No. 3, Mvt. 3
Francis Poulenc, Mouvements Perpetuels
I – Assèz modéré
II – Très modéré
III – Alerte
Astor Piazzolla, Tango Suite, Mvt. 3, Allegro
Erik Satie, Gnossiennes, No. 3 (electric)
Arvo Pärt, Fratres (electric)
Federico Mompou, Jeux sur la place
III – Gracioso
Radamés Gnattali, Anacleto de Medeiros – Schottisch
All arrangements by Duo Orfeo.
2014/15 Program Offerings
- Song and Dance
Dowland, Bach, Sojo, Mendelssohn, Mompou, de León
Reich, Glass, Wallace, de Fremery, Schuttenhelm, Roston, Crowell, Cage
Current & Recent Programs
- Soli Deo Gloria
Tallis, Dowland, Bach, Satie, Kedrov, Joseph Ricker, Mompou, Pärt
- From Paris to São Paulo
Couperin, Duphly, Satie, Gnattali, de Lhoyer, Poulenc, Piazzolla
- I Sing The Body Electric
Cage, Silvestrov, Satie, Pärt, Mompou
- Dramatis Personae
Grieg, Bach, de Lhoyer, Schubert, Khachaturian, Rossini, Chopin, Mendelssohn, de Fremery
Albéniz, Mompou, de Falla, de Fremery, Granados, Llobet, Segovia, Tárrega
- Interactive Children’s Concert
Duo Orfeo offers a short, highly accessible program geared toward younger audiences. This program includes pieces from around the world whose characters and components are easily grasped, played on classical and electric guitars. It features stori...
- Forum on Composing and Arranging for Guitar Duo
Duo Orfeo maintains a vested involvement in expanding the literature of great guitar duo music. This workshop, based in Joe and Jamie’s work as arrangers, is suitable for composition students or anyone interested in arranging music for guitars. Wi...
- Guitar Masterclasses
Duo Orfeo offers masterclasses to guitarists and guitar ensembles of all levels. As teachers, Joseph Ricker and Jamie Balmer share an interest in seeing aspiring artists attain their full potential. They accomplish this work by helping students to c...