DUO NOVUS, harp duet
Duo Novus pairs together two of Canada’s premier up and coming young artists, harpists Emily Belvedere and Kristan Toczko. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, the pair founded their ensemble as a way to perform and expand the harp duet repertoire through commissioning new works as well as arranging existing works, bringing both familiar and unfamiliar works to new audiences. In the summer of 2014, Duo Novus spent two weeks completing a chamber music residency at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute in New Hampshire, where they work shopped their first commission, “Spinning, Weaving” by Canadian composer Tawnie Olson. They plan to return to New Hampshire early Fall 2015 for another residency. More recently, Duo Novus was awarded a Canada Council grant for a concert tour in the Netherlands. Having been recognized for their alluring stage presence together and powerful combination of sound, this compelling duo has performed throughout eastern Canada, the United states and Europe.
KRISTAN TOCZKO, harpist
Kristan Toczko is quickly becoming known as one of Canada’s premier young harpists. She has captivated audiences across North America with her unique sensibility, being described as “scintillating,” “expressive” and “remarkable.” Kristan is a first place winner of the prestigious OSM Standard Life Competition 2010 in the harp category, also receiving the Banff Centre for the Arts prize. As a native of New Brunswick, Canada, Kristan was named a “Jeune Artiste” for Atlantic Canada by CBC Radio-Canada and was subsequently featured on a national broadcast by the CBC. More recently, Kristan has also been selected as one of CBC Music’s Young Artist of 2014 and was recorded for broadcast on CBC Radio 2 and for on-line streaming. This prestigious program identifies and promotes Canada’s most promising musicians. Kristan has won both the McGill Concerto Competition and the Yale Concerto Competition, the Yale Chamber Music Society Competition, and has won prizes in the ECSO Instrumental Competition and the Concours de Musique Hélène-Roberge.
As an experienced chamber musician and orchestral player, Kristan has collaborated with artists such as Peter Oundjian, Jahja Ling, Michael Stern, Matthias Pintscher, Sir Simon Rattle, Heinz Holliger, Barbara Hannigan, Measha Brueggergosman, Adrian Thompson, Barry Shiffman, Tara O'Connor, and has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the KKL Lucerne Concert Hall, Roy Thomson Hall, Palais Montcalm, the Orpheum Theatre and the National Arts Centre. She has been a featured soloist at the Baie des Chaleurs International Chamber Music Festival as well as the 11th World Harp Congress and Festival, where she was invited to perform Michael Conway Baker’s Concerto for Harp with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Kristan is a founding member of Duo Novus with harpist Emily Belvedere, who were recently granted a residency at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute.
Kristan has performed as principal harpist with several orchestras in eastern Canada and the USA, including the Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil, the Delphi Chamber Orchestra, and Pronto Musica. She has also toured twice with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and is currently on the substitute list for the New World Symphony. Kristan has attended orchestral programs such as the Aspen Music Festival and School, the National Orchestral Institute, the Lucerne Festival Academy and was invited twice to the Banff Centre’s orchestra and masterclass sessions.
Kristan holds a B.Mus. and a G.D.P.P. in Harp Performance from McGill University, where she studied with Montreal Symphony principal harpist Jennifer Swartz, and graduated from Yale University with a M.M. in Harp Performance studying with June Han. Kristan pursues an active performing career as an avid solo, chamber and orchestral harpist based in Toronto.
Updated fall 2014.
EMILY BELVEDERE, harpist
Recipient of the 2008 Hnatyshyn Foundation Classical Music Grant for Orchestral Instruments, harpist Emily Belvedere has been praised for her “crystalline technique” and her “ease in merging lyrical and dissonant sounds” (MusicWeb International’s Worldwide Concert and Opera Reviews). An enthusiastic competitor, Miss Belvedere has won a number of bursaries and scholarships including claiming third prize at the American Harp Society’s 18th National Competition in Salt Lake City, Utah. More recently, Emily won the McGill Classical Concerto Competition as well as the prize for best performance of a Canadian work in the 2013 OSM Standard Life Competition in Montreal. Emily is an avid performer of chamber music and was also a prizewinner in the Glenn Gould School Chamber Music Competition at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
A native of Toronto, Emily has given many solo and chamber performances throughout the region, in venues such as the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre and the Art Gallery of Ontario. She has also been invited as a soloist to give recitals as part of the Mooredale Concert Series in Toronto and the Christ Church Beaurepaire Concert Series in Quebec. Miss Belvedere has performed as principal harpist with both the Royal Conservatory Orchestra and McGill Symphony Orchestra, as well as with numerous ensembles throughout Ontario such as the Scarborough Philharmonic and York Symphony Orchestra. In February of 2014, Emily was featured as a soloist with the Mcgill Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Alexis Hauser.
In 2012, Emily completed her Bachelor of Music Degree at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory, where she studied with internationally acclaimed harpist Judy Loman. This past May, she received her Masters Degree in Harp Performance at McGill University under the tutelage of Montreal Symphony’s principal harpist, Jennifer Swartz.
Updated fall 2014.
Photo credit: TiraMisu Photography, and Hannah Belvedere Photography