The initial impetus of the ‘Australian Thais’ project came from David Howie’s Thai family connections and the shared interest to explore the connections between the music and people of both countries. This led to collaborations with some of Thailand and Australia’s premiere composers to commission, workshop and produce new music for a cross-cultural exchange aimed at enhancing and strengthening links between the two countries, greatly increasing cultural awareness and understanding through music. This project was made possible by a Sydney University, Conservatorium of Music internal research grant.
First performing together in 2008, Michael Duke and David Howie have always put exciting and innovative chamber music at the heart of HD Duo’s repertoire – commissioning, recording and performing new works written by some of Australia’s most prominent and respected composers. These include Anne Boyd, Michael Smetanin, Matthew Hindson. Mark Zadro, Gerard Brophy, Tim Dargaville, Andrew Batterham, Brenton Broadstock, Miriama Young and Paul Sarcich. As well as performing regularly across the major cities of Australia, HD Duo has also appeared in concert throughout the world in countries such as Thailand, USA, Singapore, UK, France, Malta, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Canada, Croatia, Mexico and French Polynesian New Caledonia.
First performing together in 2008, Duke and Howie have made the impetus for their duo the presentation of exciting and innovative chamber music. Of particular interest and drive for the duo has been their close collaboration with some of Australia’s most prominent and respected composers commissioning, recording and performing these new works written specifically for them. Leading composers that have written for HD Duo include: Anne Boyd, Michael Smetanin, Matthew Hindson. Mark Zadro, Gerard Brophy, Tim Dargaville, Andrew Batterham, Brenton Broadstock, Miriama Young and Paul Sarcich.
Meeting as colleagues at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Duo is frequently featured on the conservatorium’s concert series. As well as performing regularly across the major cities of Australia, HD Duo has also appeared in concert throughout the world in countries such as Thailand, USA, Singapore, England, Scotland, France, Malta, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Canada, Croatia, Mexico and French Polynesian New Caledonia. Some highlights have included: performances at multiple World Saxophone Congress’ (2009, 2012, 2015, 2018), being featured artists at the North American Saxophone Alliance conference Indianola, Iowa (2011), their UK debut in concert at “Australia House” in London (2012), the Australasian Saxophone and Clarinet Conference (2013) and recital concerts at the Festival de Mexico in Mexico City (2014).
As seasoned educators HD Duo has relished the opportunity to work with students presenting master classes and workshops at institutions that include: the University of Minnesota, California State University Long Beach, Indiana University Bloomington, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and the University of Queensland. In 2014 their second recording “Incandescence: Music for saxophone and piano by female composers” was released on the Saxophone Classics Label (UK).
In 2015 they were recipients of a COALAR ( Council on Australia Latin America Relations ) grant that enabled them to commission new works by Mexican and Australian composers for their third CD.
They travelled to Mexico City, where they work shopped the new Mexican pieces with the composers, performing the works along with the new Australian compositions in concerts and a live broadcast at Opus FM. They also gave masterclasses at NICO and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
Throughout the remainder of 2015 they toured the new works throughout the major cities in Australia.
2018 sees them working on two exciting new projects;
Music of the Commonwealth is an ambitious project funded by a generous grant from The Elizabethan Theatre Trust which aims to commission, record and tour new works from each of the 53 Commonwealth Countries. The first CD will contain compositions from Australia, Canada, UK, Malta, Cyprus and Sri Lanka and will be toured in April/May. They will then produce one CD every following year containing 6 new countries until the list is exhausted.
Australian/Thais is a collaboration of new music commissioned by Australian and Thai composers, which has been enabled by an internal grant from the University of Sydney. They have commissioned new works from 3 Australian and 3 Thai composers, which was subsequently toured in both countries.