about Duo LiveOak
Duo LiveOak offers a fresh voice in classical music, creating and performing their own significant new body of lyrical contemporary song with classical guitar. Infectiously at ease onstage, Knowles and Wallace are eloquent, whimsical, passionate, versatile, colorful, and entirely original. Rare composer/performers, they do not merely entertain--they engage the audience with their innovative programming, Wallace’s guitar wizardry and meltingly beautiful vocals. Frank Oteri of NewMusicBox.org has called Wallace’s music "contemporary musical emancipation…further proof of the meaninglessness of such terms as ‘classical and ‘pop’.” Nancy Knowles and Frank Wallace collaborate as poet and composer in writing songs with echoes of blues, medieval, jazz, Latin, and classical music from Ravel to avant garde. Duo LiveOak has toured for decades throughout North and South America and Europe. Their numerous recordings and publications can be found on the Gyre label, at www.gyremusic.com.
Wallace was a guitar professor at New England Conservatory in the late 1970’s when he and Knowles founded LiveOak. Both as a duo and as members of the ensembles Trio LiveOak and LiveOak and Company, they have toured widely throughout the U.S., Europe and South America since 1976, performing at festivals such as the Holland Festival, Regensburg Festival, Música en Compostela, Boston Early Music Festival, Barcelona Festival, International Guitar Festival of Arequipa, the Festival of Spanish Song of Granada, and Guitar Foundation of America. LiveOak records and publishes for Gyre (www.gyremusic.com). They have also recorded for Titanic, Centaur, and Musical Heritage Society, which re-released a number of LiveOak and Frank Wallace recordings in 2008. Their recordings can be found at www.gyremusic.com.
Mezzo-soprano and poet Nancy Knowles has a longstanding reputation for her skillful interweaving of song, poetry and drama both in concert with LiveOak and in her own solo shows. "Knowles' exceptionally beautiful soprano carried the evening in song and declaimed poetry..." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Knowles also performs as a soloist in a series of theatrical memoirs. In The House of Fools (2001) she combines her own masks and poetry with unaccompanied songs from many traditions. She is currently writing a sequel to that show, The Girl in the Moon, for which Frank Wallace has written a major song cycle, SYZYGY (2006).
One of the most prolific guitarist-composers of our time, Frank Wallace’s compositions showcase the classical guitar in solo, duo, trio and quartet, as well as in chamber works with strings and winds. In the past ten years, Wallace has written close to a hundred songs, most of them in groups (cycles) ranging from six to fifteen songs. The richness and complexity of his song accompaniments and his compelling vocal melodies highlight the influence of his mentors, from Dowland to Schubert to Britten. In addition to his work with LiveOak, Wallace performs and records as a soloist. Wallace's compositions have been twice honored by the New Hampshire Council on the Arts' prestigious Artist Fellowship Award, in 2001 for Frank Wallace, his own new works (Gyre 10012), his debut recording on Gyre of his own compositions, and in 2006 for the Duo LiveOak CD Woman of the Water (Gyre 10082). Wallace was the founding director of Festival 21 in Boston, celebrating 21st century works for guitar, and is co-curator of the Second Sundays Guitar Series at Roger Smith Arts in New York City.
In addition to the New England Conservatory, Frank Wallace has taught at Plymouth State College, Emmanuel College, Keene State College, Franklin Pierce College. His complete works and recordings are available at www.gyremusic.com. Wallace’s compositions have also been published by Tuscany Publications and Clear Note Publications. His works have been featured in Guitar Review, Fingerstyle Magazine, and the Lute Society of America Quarterly. Frank Wallace plays a 10 string guitar by Stephan Connor.
"In over 25 years of writing about music on recordings and in concerts, I have rarely been as captivated and enchanted by any item as this new CD from Duo LiveOak...This is a first-rate chamber music duo with a new and refreshing twist. Its artists are steeped in early music, and Wallace's songs and duets, deftly accompanied, evoke memories of our distant cultural past, ever so gently wrapped in occasional quasi-contemporary enhancements... “
Classical Voice North Carolina
"Good performances of contemporary art music which is inventive and serious, yet accessible and engaging, by turns lyrical, expressive and witty. Most impressive."
Lute News (U.K.)
"He is an impressive talent in every respect; he is a strong guitarist, a composer with a distinct voice, and a confident vocalist...Her voice is especially well suited to the guitar. She has a pure, unaffected delivery…[T]ruly exceptional…”