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Elizabeth McNutt and Shannon Wettstein formed the Calliope Duo eleven years ago while pursuing their doctorates in contemporary music performance practice, an unique degree program at the University of California at San Diego. Over the years the duo has survived ice storms, tornados, and cross-country moves. In their collaborations as the Calliope Duo and in their highly acclaimed solo performances, Dr. McNutt and Dr. Wettstein present the most original, innovative, and excellent newly composed music. The Calliope Duo's programs focus on works from the last fifty years, but occasionally incorporate innovative older repertoire for contrast and a fresh perspective. Through collaborations with composers and outreach to audiences, the Calliope Duo works to build the concert repertoire and audiences of the future. The name "Calliope" refers to an innovative American hybrid of flute and piano, a keyboard instrument that plays a rank of steam-driven pipes. "Calliope" is also the name of the Greek muse of eloquence and epic poetry, an embodiment of the duo's mission to convey ideas of heroic intensity with beauty and grace.
The Calliope Duo has presented guest artist residencies at such universities as University of Colorado at Boulder, California State University, and University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Their projects have been supported by grants from the American Composers Forum and the Brannen-Cooper Fund. The members of Calliope are also dedicated teachers. Dr. Wettstein is on the faculty at Augsburg College in Minnesota; Dr. McNutt is on faculty at the University of North Texas, where she directs the Nova Ensemble. Committed to both scholarly research and performance, Calliope presented a lecture-recital on the music of late 20th century Italian master Franco Donatoni at the College Music Society National Conference. Other ongoing projects include the ensemble's performances and recordings of Donatoni's music.
In addition to their work as a duo, the members of Calliope are avid solo performers as well, having been featured in such venues as the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella series, Boston's Gardner Museum and Jordan Hall, and festivals at Aspen (CO), Scotia (Canada), Darmstadt (Germany), Yellow Barn (VT), Sandpoint (ID), Norfolk (CT), Arcosanti (AZ), and June in Buffalo (NY). Dr. McNutt's CD of music for solo flute and electronics, pipe wrench, is on the Electronic Music Foundation Media label; Dr. Wettstein's solo piano album is available on the Centaur label. An avid performer of electro-acoustic music, Dr. McNutt also performs with clarinetist Esther Lamneck in The Tornado Project. Dr. Wettstein is the pianist for the Twin Cities-based contemporary ensemble, Zeitgeist.