William Slingsby-Duncome of the Ducasse Trio talks to us about commissioning Charlotte Bray’s Chant for clarinet, violin and piano ahead of the premiere on 17th November, London.
Q. You formed The Ducasse Trio in 2010 as students at the Paris Conservatoire. What brought you together and how has your relationship evolved?
Fiachra and I met as Students at the CNSMDP and then I worked with Charlotte Maclet in Southbank Sinfonia. I think we were initially attracted to each other by our rather loud, slightly eccentric sartorial styles! And obviously we all greatly admired each other’s playing and the different ideas we brought to discussions about playing and working together. I think over time we all continue to shock, inspire and amaze each other, both musically and personally which is always fun and definitely keeps you on your toes!
Q. What drew you to Charlotte Bray’s music?
We were drawn to Charlotte Bray’s music after hearing ‘At the speed of stillness’. We were all deeply moved by the piece and it spoke to us very naturally, which is quite rare when hearing a piece for the first time. One of Charlotte’s inspirations for the piece is the surrealist poet Doar Maar, this instantly struck a chord with us as the Ducasse Trio’s name actually comes from the Surrealist poet Isidore-Lucien Ducasse (Comte de Lautreamont) as a trio we are all very moved and interested in the works of the surrealist movement and all the artists that encapsulate it, so to realise Charlotte was also using some of these ideas in her music was a big draw for us.
Q. What is the importance of commissioning new work for you?
Commissioning new work is imperative to the Ducasse trio. We really work hard in performing lesser known and new works to our audiences. We are all great fans of the classical composers but sometimes find the programming throughout the UK and Europe is highly saturated with the same composers. We want to invite the audiences to hear new things, to challenge themselves with new ideas and sounds and new ways of thinking about music. More often than not we have members of the audience approaching us after the concert saying how much they loved the contemporary pieces in the programme. I feel we have a very special way of presenting these new works to audiences, we talk a lot about the inspirations that lie behind the music, all on a very personal level and I feel the audience responds very well to this.
Q. What advice would you give composers thinking of composing for clarinet, violin and piano?
I think it’s very hard for us to give advice, but what we always look for is honesty in the music. I think you can tell instantly when someone has a very strong vision and idea behind their music and this is very attractive to us. I think sometimes some composers seem determined to test the absolute limits of technical abilities on our instruments, which of-course is fine, but only when there is intrigue and a reason for it, as long as there is some beauty and passion behind it.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming performances
We have lots of wonderful performances coming up, our most exciting is the premiere of Charlottes piece ‘Chant’ which is on 17/11/2017 at St James Church Piccadilly as part of the Concordia Foundation series. We are then heading down to Snape Maltings to be Ensemble in residence, doing lots of wonderful recitals in the Jubilee Hall. We’re also heading to SJE Arts in Oxford and then the new Recital Hall at Birmingham Conservatoire (incidentally where Chalotte Bray and I met and studied together) to give more performances of her fantastic new piece! Exciting times indeed.