“Quick! Name as many pieces as you can think of written for double bass and oboe. Sorry, time’s up.” Bruce Hodges opened the Juilliard Journal On-Line review of the Vecchione/Erdahl Duo’s cd, It Takes Two… with this question. And even the most ardent classical music enthusiast would be pressed to name one work. The Vecchione/Erdahl Duo of oboist Carrie Vecchione and double bassist Rolf Erdahl answered with an entire cd of works for the two instruments. Two very different instruments played together with amazing results.
In the year since the debut of It Takes Two…, Vecchione and Erdahl have been busy. In addition to Rolf’s work as an adjunct member of the music faculty at Gustavus and Carrie’s teaching load at the McPhail Center for Music and at the St. Paul Conservatory, the Duo has received four significant grants (and a serious need for a full-time manager.)
They started this summer by performing half a dozen of the 36 performances associated with an Arts Learning Grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council to present music and literature programs to senior living centers. They also began scheduling another 36 programs of Vecchione/Erdahl Duo recitals and/or the Pages of Music with Rolf and Carrie educational programs through the Arts Tour Minnesota Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
In addition to the Arts Learning and the Arts Touring grants, Vecchione and Erdahl were awarded a Subito Grant from the American Composers Forum to assist in recording composer Margi Griebling-Haigh’s Askelad and the Seven Silver Ducks to accompany a children’s book based on a Norwegian folktale and adapted and illustrated by the composer. Finally, Rolf received an Artist’s Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to commission a new bass bow from George Rubino.
By the time the grant projects are completed, the Duo will have crossed the state and presented over 70 performances, celebrated Norwegian Constitution Day at Vesterheim Museum on Syttenede Mai in Decorah, taught at the Lutheran Summer Music Camp and performed at the International Convention of the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association in Leavenworth, Kansas. And they aren’t done quite yet. They continue to search for opportunities to bring this unusual combination to audiences.
Two very different instruments with little or no history together put together with amazing results. In Rolf’s words, it’s “challenging, daunting, creative, rewarding, and fun to be making up something that really didn’t exist before — the oboe/bass duo as an ensemble with a body of repertoire.” It is, quite simply, the foundation of the creative process and audiences from the Schubert Club to rural Minnesota to the listeners of Minnesota Public Radio have had, or will have, the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.