Why “Black Dog” Duo?

It all started in 2014 in Greensboro, North Carolina. William and I were entered in the same concerto competition at University of North Carolina-Greensboro. We both made it to the final round–I was playing the Manevich Concerto and William was playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2. After a masterful performance of the first movement, it was clear that William would be the winner. I congratulated him.

Later that year, I attended my first Clarinetfest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I saw Julie Heinen perform a knock-out performance of Black Dog by Scott McAllister, complete with floor-length sequin gown. This showpiece for the clarinet combined two of my passions: classical music performance and classic rock. Black Dog is based on Led Zeppelin’s song of the same name. As soon as I left the concert hall that night, I knew I wanted to learn that piece and enter that concerto competition again…and WIN!

I asked William to be my accompanist for the competition. We worked closely together to prepare and it was one of the most memorable performances of my life. I really believe I (and we) left it all out on stage. It was just the cherry on top that I won the competition and was able to perform Black Dog with the school wind ensemble.

Ever since we have performed numerous concerts together. We love performing together, but we also like to sit back and appreciate the other’s solo performances. We try to incorporate works for solo piano and solo clarinet in many of our concerts.

Now, we have to address the elephant (or small black dog) in the room. If you know us, then you definitely know we have two dogs: Toby and Lionel. Many people think that we call ourselves Black Dog Duo because of Lionel, a black lab, who is our heart, and who has sat next to us (and sometimes on top of William’s pedaling foot) every step of the way. No, we are not named after Lionel. Yes, it’s a coincidence that could not be more perfect.

Thank you for reading Black Dog Duo’s first blog post! If you have suggestions for more posts, please leave it in a comment below. We look forward to sharing the ins and outs of our musical lives!