"A truly pathbreaking
Duo Noire is a "virtuosic pair” (I Care if You Listen) of the pioneering American classical guitarists, Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett. Offering “profoundly enjoyable” premieres of genre-bending contemporary music with “spectacular precision” (St. Louis Post- Dispatch), Duo Noire is breaking new ground in the world of guitar chamber music.
In June 2018 they released their debut album, Night Triptych, on the New Focus Recordings label. It features all new works written for Duo Noire by acclaimed women composers: GRAMMY-nominee Clarice Assad, Courtney Bryan, E.C.M. Artist Golfam Khayam, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Gity Razaz, and Gabriella Smith. The album has received universal praise from major critics, who hailed it as an "astounding...goldmine of ideas and feelings" (Stereophile), a “marvelous recital” (Limelight Magazine), “truly pathbreaking” (All Music), and “an important disc” (The Arts Fuse). Duo Noire’s album has been featured in the Spring 2018 issue of Chamber Music Magazine, as well as on radio stations nationwide, including WQXR's New Sounds in NYC. Night Triptych is the culmination of a project Duo Noire launched in 2015 to make classical music more gender inclusive, with the help of a grant from the Diller-Quaile School of Music.
Duo Noire's earlier work has been featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Classical Guitar Magazine, and on the cover of the Guitar Foundation of America's journal, Soundboard. Their previous EP release was the premiere recording of Juilliard professor Raymond Lustig’s 30-minute masterwork FIGMENTS. It is repeatedly broadcast on WQXR and Q2 radio and was praised as “a unique and entrancing album that exists at the unusual intersection of minimalism and impressive classical guitar technique” (I Care if You Listen).
Collectively, Duo Noire have performed with MacArthur genius Jason Moran, GRAMMY- winning guitarist William Coulter, and Porgy and Bess Broadway star Alicia Hall Moran. Past performances include China’s Peking University, the 92 Street Y, Georgetown University, the New York City Classical Guitar Society, the Omaha Under the Radar and April in Santa Cruz new music festivals, the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, and at the Times Center playing for the MacDowell Colony. Duo Noire has also received fellowships for new music at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute in New Hampshire and the Norfolk Music Festival in Connecticut.
Thomas and Christopher are the first African-American guitarists to graduate from the Yale School of Music.
2019 - Mallet in concert with acclaimed composer Larry Polanski. Performing his work and recording it.
2019 -Duo Noire in concert with renowned new music vocal ensemble Quince, NYC TBA.
August/September 2018 - Flippin invited to be in the inaugural music ensemble for the critically-acclaimed premiere of “The Black Clown” at Harvard’s American Repertory Theater, featuring Davone Tines in a 1-month run, and based on the poem by Langston Hughes.
DEBUT ALBUM, NIGHT TRIPTYCH, released on New Focus Recordings 6/22/18.
New works by women composers: Clarice Assad, Courtney Bryan, Golfam Khayam, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Gity Razaz & Gabriella Smith.
Summer 2018- Mallet’s students win prizes in Guitar Foundation of America and Boston Guitarfest youth competitions and top prizes in Canada’s Domaine Forget competition.
May/July 2018 - Flippin with Alicia Hall Moran, Jason Moran, & Brandon Ross forBlack Wall Street Performances in Oklahoma
and New Mexico. Featuring music reflecting on the 1921 race riots in Tulsa.
Duo Noire Featured in Chamber Music America's Magazine, Spring Issue.
June 2018 - Duo Noire at the Kindred Spirits Series in Pennsylvania.
July 2017 - Omaha Under the Radar Festival 7/7/17 @6pm
Performing selections from Duo Noire's "Women of Guitar Commissioning Project."
May 2017 - New York City Classical Guitar Society 5/24/17 @ 7:30pm.
Performing all 7 pieces written from Duo Noire's "Women of Guitar Commissioning Project."
April 2017 - April in Santa Cruz Festival - University of California Santa Cruz.
Premiering works by Gity Razaz, Mary Kouyoumdjian, and Gabriella Smith. Free Admission.
February 2017-- Duo Noire gets glowing concert review in St Louis' largest newspaper the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Interviewed on the Pascal Show on ABC 30 in St. Louis. Interviewed in the St Louis American.
January 2017- Flippin performs on nationally televised C-SPAN broadcast w/ Alicia Hall Moran at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
- St Louis Classical Guitar Society 1/28. Premiering works by Clarice Assad & Courtney Bryan.
July 2016- AVALOCH FARM Duo Noire artist residency. Working on new music by Ray Lustig, Clarice Assad & Courtney Bryan.
May 2016- Flippin performs at National Sawdust spring gala. Featuring Renee Fleming, & Bryce Dessner; honoring
Academy Award nominee David Lang and broadway soprano Alicia Hall Moran. Special guest Salman Rushdie.
April 2016- Mallett featured in CLASSICAL GUITAR MAGAZINE video, Interviewed on Classical Guitar Insider.
March 2016- -Duo Noire lecture/performance at JUILLIARD 3/31.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, Guitarists Duo Noire get 'a little weird' at Ethical Society concert
It’s always a special pleasure to have Duo Noire back in town, and Saturday night at the Ethical Society was no exception. Classical guitarists Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett created a relaxed, informal atmosphere as they presented an eclectic program that included two world premières...With its incredibly transparent and lightly textured delivery, spectacular precision, delightful commentary, and a wide range of guitar techniques, Duo Noire produced another engaging and profoundly enjoyable program.”
STEREOPHILE: An Enlightening Debut from Duo Noire by Jason Victor Serinus
"Duo Noire's debut recording for New Focus Recordings, Night Triptych, covers so many bases, and speaks so clearly to contemporary realities, that it immediately qualifies for several gold stars. But once you hear the sheer musicality of its premiere recordings of six new works for duo guitar, and how wonderfully they are played, you may be tempted to award the album several more...the depth, variety, and range of colors is astounding....There's a goldmine of ideas and feelings here, whose riches will unveil themselves more and more over time."
“Its first strengths rest precisely where they should: in the music and the sheer excellence of the performances that catch the ear and don’t let it go…Mallett and Flippin play the whole program with terrific panache. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine more engaged or sympathetic performances of any of these pieces and the guitarists’ command of the varied stylistic demands between all six is faultless. An important disc, sure, but, even more, an inviting one that takes you to some fresh places well worth experiencing.”
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Review- Terrific premiere recordings of new music for two guitars.- October 2018"
“The music really is terrific: original, colourful, exciting and taking advantage of everything two guitars have to offer in the way of technique, tone and timbre. It helps that the music also has such talented advocates, who embrace opportunities to improvise and embellish with style and gusto…[a] marvelous recital.”
TEXTURA, Night Triptych Album Review - July 2018
"As laudable as the project is for presenting works by female composers, it would be less of an accomplishment were its contents of only middling value, but that's hardly the case: the pieces are a varied lot that speak highly on behalf of their creators, and it doesn't hurt that the musicians bringing the material to life are Flippin and Mallett, virtuosos who invest their performances with energy and conviction. To claim that the two break new ground in the world of classical guitar music on the hour-long release isn't overselling it: deploying everything from stabs and strums to trills and taps, the guitarists consistently extend the acoustic instrument into adventurous territory without sacrificing musicality in the process."
ALL MUSIC REVIEW: Night Triptych by James Manheim
You might not expect much...and you would be making a major error...All-contemporary programs of guitar music are not common, and this may be the first to feature exclusively female composers. All the works were commissioned by Duo Noire, and…the duo handles a large variety of technical demands well. Another star of the show is producer William Coulter, a guitarist himself, whose crystal clear, close-up guitar sound is absolutely exemplary. A truly pathbreaking recording that is greatly satisfying in its own right."
I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, Duo Noire Presents Newly Commissioned Works on Night Triptych
"listeners will expand their understanding of the kinds of sounds that may be drawn from this beautiful instrument…the Duo achieves their sonic explorations with an impeccable sense of ensemble and easy musicianship that sounds like they’ve been playing together for decades. The disc is a delight...an imaginative world full of one new acoustic discovery after another. Duo Noire transitions between extended and standard techniques with virtuosic ease, using their athletic and beautifully focused sound to project musicianship in perfect ensemble."
NEW MUSIC BUFF: Duo Noire, Guitar Duo Revisioned by Allan J. Cronin 8-10-2018
"…they even seem to be expanding the very possibilities of a guitar duo...It appears to be a landmark release for identifying new composers contributing to the guitar...Above all this is an intelligent album...you have a glorious celebration of gender/cultural diversity as well as some mind blowing compositional efforts ably handled by these visionary musicians. It is admittedly unusual (though clearly not risky) to program compositions by all women composers. This is a wonderful collection with performances that are incisive and intriguing enough to leave their listeners wanting more. This is a group to watch/listen to."
AN EARFUL: Night Triptych Album Review-
This [is a] brilliant album…[they] expand the repertoire for two guitars in marvelous ways…the works both transcend and exemplify the characteristics of the instruments…this wouldn’t work without the Duo’s phenomenal technique…Gabriella Smith fill[s] out the collection, which is a delight throughout. When ideology intersects with music it only advances the cause of both when the results are as compulsively listenable as what Duo Noire has put forth on Night Triptych. The album, out now on New Focus Recordings, is a complete success on all counts.”
WQXR RADIO: NEW SOUNDS on Night Triptych
"Duo Noire is so named because the two guitarists are both African-American. There album called "Night Triptych" is something that we'll be returning to in the future on New Sounds because it is full of really interesting pieces for their combination of two classical guitars." - John Schaefer, Episode #4128
I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, Where Classical Guitar Meets Minimalism
"Figments, composed by Raymond Lustig and performed by the virtuosic pair, DUO NOIRE (Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett) is a unique and entrancing album that exists at the unusual intersection of minimalism and impressive classical guitar technique...The impressive technique displayed by DUO NOIRE is perfectly suited to Lustig's delicious compositions, and you wouldn't regret getting a hold of this…excellently produced and mastered album."
CHAMBER MUSIC MAGAZINE, Forward Motion, SPRING 2018
"He looked at the sea of people, and wondered how all the women felt, many of them guitarists themselves, to look at the stage and not see a place of their own. Thomas and his collaborator, Christopher Mallett, sometimes feel like outsiders themselves."
ACOUSTIC GUITAR MAGAZINE: GUITARS FOR GOOD
Needy schools benefit from nonprofits bringing guitars into the classroom...The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society didn't get involved in the Ferguson protests, but took the message of those signs to heart nonetheless...[and] instituted the Ferguson Guitar Initiative...Students of Johnson Wabash Elementary School in Ferguson Missouri pose with Artists-in-residence Thomas Flippin and Chris Mallett of Duo Noire.
SOUNDBOARD MAGAZINE, Mini-Review: Figments
"Figments is a substantial piece over half an hour in length...At times the effect is similar to the early minimalism of pulse-pattern works, but fragmenting much sooner than the music of Philip Glass or Steve Reich & Terry Riley...captured in crystalline sound...both composer Lustig and Duo Noire are to be congratulated for their work. I look forward to hearing more from them."
MIDWEST RECORD REVIEW:
"A groundbreaking record...pushing the envelope forward....Heady stuff that opens the ears in fine style."
Duo Noire, Night Triptych Album Review:
"Duo Noire, aka Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett are talented exponents of the contemporary classical guitar, with technique to spare and an interpretive acumen that serves them well in bringing to us the subtleties and sonic pleasures of each composition in the program...The result is a sort of state-of-the-art view of what we can understand and appreciate today...It is thoroughgoing, most musical in design...one gets something of lasting worth not just a shock blast of newness! I most definitely recommend this to any with an interest in New Music for guitar. Bravo!" 7-26-18
NATIONAL SAWDUST LOG: On the Record. Featured Album June 22, 2018
The Saint Louis American: Saint Louis Classical Guitar Society Welcomes Duo Noire to Town
"In the ten years since classical guitarists Thomas Flippin and Chris Mallett formed Duo Noire, they have become trailblazers."
"DUO NOIRE PLAY WITH STUNNING TECHNIQUE AND DEEP MUSICIANSHIP. The new repertoire on this recording expands the horizons for the classical guitar duo. The pieces traverse various musical landscapes and bend genres into new shapes. The idea of commissioning female composers is wonderful, as they are sadly underrepresented in the classical guitar world. Bravo to Duo Noire for this amazing sonic adventure, working with them is an honor and a joy." - William Coulter, GRAMMY-winning guitarist.
"BOTH THE PIECE AND THE PERFORMANCE ARE INCREDIBLE. It is a really exciting contribution to the repertoire. Congratulations!"
- Marc Teicholz, Professor of Guitar at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 1st Prize: Guitar Foundation of America Competition.
"WHAT A PLEASURE it was having Duo Noire on our series. Not only was their musicianship brilliant , but also the diversity of their programming was exceptional. The two provided delightful on-stage commentaries, adding tremendously to our audience's appreciation of each selection. How gratifying it is to see young artists so devoted to their craft." --Musical Programming Director, Placitas Artists Series
"THEY'RE BOTH FANTASTIC RECITALISTS and teaching artists, equally loved by students and community audiences alike. Reach out to them—they belong on your next guitar series!" William Ash, Executive Director, St. Louis Classical Guitar Society
"Duo Noire plays with a unique balance of American earnestness and worldly style. Flippin and Mallett are musicians of the older, better, sense: the pair actively compose and arrange, as well as perform, bringing a creative artist’s vitality to all the music they play, from new premiers to classic repertoire, as if the music were being written before your very eyes." -Raymond J. Lustig, Juilliard Composition Professor