Music of Longing: Nature, People and Place

Meraki Duo, Saturday 30th November 2024

Meera Maharaj – flute
James Girling - guitar


William Grant Still (arr.Girling ) Three Songs:
I.   Bayou Home
II. If You Could Stay
III. Song For The Lonely
(arr.K.Ragossnig )
Arpeggione Sonata in A minor, D.821
Tōru Takemitsu Toward The Sea’ for alto flute and guitar:
I. The Night
II. Moby Dick
III.Cape Cod
Egberto Gismonti (arr. P. Richter ) ‘Água e Vinho’
Antônio Carlos Jobim (arr. P. Bellinati ) ‘Garoto (Choro )’
Sergio Assad ‘Jobiniana No.2'
Hermeto Pascoal (arr. Girling ) ‘Bebê’
Pascoal/Quarteto Novo (arr. Meraki Duo ) ‘Misturada’

The Meraki Duo bring us a thoughtful programme of beautiful flute and guitar music for our third concert of the season.

Their concert is filled with “songs” which, despite coming from all corners of the world, share common human themes of nostalgia, melancholy or ephemerality in connection to nature, people and places.

These sentiments are very well encapsulated by the profound Lusophone concept of saudade, explored in the  group of Brazilian arrangements which closes the programme. Saudade harks back to the longing heard in the opening 'Three Songs’ by African American composer William Grant Still, drawing upon the influence of spirituals.

In Schubert’s melodies there is always a certain melancholy to be felt, and this well-known sonata was originally composed for the arpeggione: a short-lived instrument - now long-lost - which resembled a hybrid of the cello and guitar.

Poignantly, the reality of endangered life in the natural world is poetically evoked in Takemitsu’s 'Toward The Sea’, which was commissioned by Greenpeace for the Save The Whales campaign. 
“..virtuoso musicians who hav a deep understanding of many styles…audiences love them and their programming is imaginative and thoughtful”

“the duo captured me immediately with their effortless virtuosity and poised presentation”

“..would you believe the extraordinary sounds a flute or guitar can produce, and in such quick succession?”

Winners of the II International Chamber Music Competition for Flute & Guitar in Spain in 2023, Meraki Duo have spent the past decade performing extensively with programmes which offer a distinctively diverse pairing of flute and guitar. In 2020 at London's 1901 Arts Club, they premièred their first major commission: À Norte, Rio Preto by Brazilian composer Rafael Marino Arcaro. Meera Maharaj  extends the expressive range of the duo in concert by featuring the alto flute in works such as Debussy’s ‘Beau Soir’, Takemitsu’s Toward The Sea and Miroslav Tadic’s Four Macedonian Pieces. They incorporate James Girling’s arrangements of music spanning as widely as Messiaen’s wordless songs, Burt Bacharach, and Brazilian folk-jazz of Hermeto Pascoal.

Meera and James both studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, where they quickly connected through a shared passion for chamber music, jazz, Latin American styles, and contemporary works. Formed in 2013, Meraki Duo have since performed year-round for recital series from Northumberland to Cornwall, at venues such as Wigmore Hall and Kings Place, and festivals including Buxton International Festival, Swaledale Festival and London Guitar Festival. Meraki Duo were selected onto the International Guitar Foundation’s Young Artist Platform for 2020. In 2019, they were finalists in the Royal Over-Seas League Competition (Mixed Ensembles) in London.      

As Live Music Now artists since 2018, Meraki Duo also bring performances into the wider community across the country. They are specially trained to give interactive concerts in schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and in care homes.