The Bel Canto Duo, consisting of artists Darci Gamerl and David Downing, performed classical and modern original pieces at the National Music Museum March 26.
The duo is based in Omaha and was created in 2016.
“We’re both performers and composers. I play oboe and English horn, and David plays cello and he uses a looping station. He layers different parts to make it sound like a number of different voices are happening at the same time. It’s really cool,” Gamerl said.
The Bel Canto Duo has performed and composed together for over five years, Gamerl said
“We met in 2016 and we’ve pretty much started making music together ever since. We aren’t just partners in life, we are also partners in music so it just kind of happened simultaneously, but I think the pandemic and how everything shut down really accelerated that for us in terms of developing the duo,” Gamerl said. “We just did some more writing and developed things a lot more than we would have otherwise.”
Michael Suing, the interim director of the National Music Museum, said this group was chosen to introduce the community to new sounds and different kinds of music. A duo consisting of cello and oboe isn’t very common.
“I wanted to give our audience the opportunity to hear the duo. I mean, I personally had never heard it. To have that as part of the concerts that we’re offering is an access point to the work that we do in the history of musical instruments to hear different kinds of sounds and different kinds of music,” Suing said.
Along with classical and contemporary music, the duo also focuses on singing bowls, featured in several pieces they perform.
“We also focus on healing music and we use singing bowls. We have several that we’ll use in the performance. They have pretty amazing properties to help people to destress and relax. But also they literally help you restructure on a cellular level,” Gamerl said. “They’re pretty amazing to listen to and then also just to play. You can feel the vibrations coming off of the bowls.”
Music engages many parts of the brain and is very important to have in life, Gamerl said.
“When somebody is listening to music or playing music, it engages many different areas and parts of your brain,” Gamerl said. “With the bowls, that happens to your body, too, because the sound is washing over you on a neurological level.”
Downing said the duo is inspired by nature and other forms of art, including all kinds of music.
“The duo has been inspired by other music you know, the great music that came before us and world music,” Downing said.
The natural rhythm of the world is something the duo draws on for inspiration, Gamerl said.
“I think we’re inspired a lot by nature and kind of the natural rhythm and sound benefits that we get from nature,” Gamerl said. “I mean, you see it all the time after going for a walk or something like that, how you feel refreshed and like you’re reconnected with things, yourself included, and we try and express that in our music and how we are. I think that’s a big part of it.”
The Bel Canto Duo will be composing music for an interdisciplinary exhibit in Omaha, Nebraska, at Gallery 1516. The exhibit runs from April 29 to June 26.
“It’s an interdisciplinary exhibit that has a film running that features the different rivers of Nebraska and they also show you the Milky Way from the sand hills and some really beautiful things and there’s going to be dance as part of it, I believe, and then the the music that we’re recording and writing for that,” Gamerl said.