About Duo Noire
Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett bill themselves as "pioneering African-American classical guitarists," and indeed it is hard to think of another remotely similar ensemble. The pair are pioneering not only in their ethnic background but in their total commitment to new composition; most of the music they have performed and recorded was written for the duo. Flippin and Mallett came together at the Yale University School of Music, where they won a Yale Alumni Ventures grant, enabling them to tour New England, teaching and giving concerts for musically underserved students. Both have continued to make teaching an important part of their careers; Flippin teaches at New York's Concordia College and Diller-Quaile School of Music, and Mallett is director of the California Conservatory of Guitar and teaches at the University of California Santa Cruz. They have performed at such major chamber venues as the 92nd Street Y in New York, the New York Classical Guitar Society. The duo have concertized at Peking University in China and at Georgetown University, and their concert collaborators include Broadway star Alicia Hall Moran and jazz pianist Jason Moran. Duo Noire have performed at the Omaha Under the Radar and Santa Cruz New Music festivals.
Duo Noire's efforts toward the promotion of new music took a step forward when they received a grant from the Diller-Quaile School of music and in 2015 launched the Women of Guitar Commissioning Project, aimed at making classical music more gender inclusive. They commissioned new works from Clarice Assad (a Grammy winner from Brazil's famous Assad guitar family), Courtney Bryan, ECM artist Golfam Khayam, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Gity Razaz, and Gabriella Smith. The end result, after numerous performances of these works, was the album Night Triptych, which appeared in 2018 on the New Focus label. Duo Noire have also been featured on an album devoted entirely to a single work, Raymond J. Lustig's Figments; the album received repeated airplay on New York radio station WQXR and on the British Internet broadcaster Q2. ~ James Manheim