- Duo Concertante: Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Silk Purse Arts Centre at 10:30 a.m. Tickets: $12. Info: www.silkpurse.ca. And, Saturday, Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. at St. Monica's Church. Tickets: $18. Info: 604-921-9112.
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Timothy Steeves and Nancy Dahn's lives are truly grounded in their art.
Steeves, a pianist, and Dahn, a violinist, are partners both professionally, as members of the acclaimed Duo Concertante, as well as personally, as husband and wife.
"I don't think there's anything that moves me as much as music. . . . It just fills you up so much and is just so intellectually complex as well. It just seems to get your whole self firing on all cylinders. That's what keeps us going," says Dahn.
The pair met through their work as professors in the School of Music at Memorial University in St. John's, N.L. Given offices across the hall from one another, they opted to begin making music together.
"We just clicked. Our musical partnership started before the romantic one," says Dahn.
She and Steeves started performing as friends in 1997 and later fell in love, marrying in 1998. In addition to various solo projects over they years, they've had widespread success as Duo Concertante, having five records under their belts, including last year's Wild Bird. The album's "Duo for Violin and Piano," written by Murray Schafer, won a Juno Award for Best Classical Composition earlier this year. Dahn and Steeves have received a number of other accolades over the years, including being named Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's artist of the year in 2010. They're artistic directors of the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival, an annual two-week St. John's summer festival they founded in 2000 that features performances as well as workshops and master classes.
They maintain a busy international touring schedule, which includes two stops in West Vancouver next week: Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Silk Purse Arts Centre; and Saturday, Oct. 1 at St. Monica's Church.
"It's a very different feeling when I play with anyone else now because I play so much with Tim," says Dahn. "We have a way of reading each other that's pretty immediate. There's also such feelings of acceptance there with him."
When asked about their unique professional and personal partnership, both talents attest it's a successful one.
"We know some couples who really separate it, you know they have their professional thing and their sort of family thing, but for us it's always been somehow combined and that's worked really, really well for us," says Steeves.
Music is very much at the heart of family life, especially now that their children are showing an interest; their 12-year-old daughter plays piano and violin and their nine-year-old son has picked up cello and piano.
"It's sort of all-encompassing, our lives. It's all one big mash -- the family, the marriage, the music -- it's all we know," says Dahn.
"One big mash" could be used to describe their repertoire, which sees them perform a combination of pieces from the classical tradition and new works commissioned for them.
"We recognize that many of the pieces that are in the standard repertoire that we really love came about because of a performer -- a performer inspired these composers to write certain pieces. We want to be instrumental in creation of really great music too," says Dahn.
The duo also endeavour to be instrumental in the development of young talent, and have worked with countless students over the years.
"You get a lot out of your students," says Steeves. "It's tiring, it's exhausting teaching, but it's very rewarding because they inspire you, watching them learn and being a part of their growth. I think we've both been lucky in that we've hard really good students."
Coming off of a busy performance year, Steeves and Dahn plan to spend the next few months focused on their next recording project, a triple-disc set of Beethoven sonatas. One stage was recorded earlier this summer and they plan to record the second stage in January 2012 and the final pieces in June 2012. The album's release is tentatively set for late 2012 or early 2013.
"That's the kind of stuff we really love to play," says Steeves. "The Beethoven sonatas are sort of the backbone, I guess you could say, of the violin and piano repertoire."
And so, they have resonance in terms of the couple's relationship. "(They're) what brought us together," says Dahn.