Formed in 2002, Duo Transatlantique combines the prize-winning talents of guitarists Benjamin Beirs and Maud Laforest. Soon after beginning their studies at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, the two decided to form a guitar duo, under the guidance of Julian Gray, an acclaimed chamber musician and founder of the Gray-Pearl Guitar duo. In 2005, Ben embarked on his first journey to France, where the duo won first prize in the Union Française des Artistes Musiciens Guitar Duo Competition and played a concert in the American Cathedral in Paris. Since then, they have continued touring annually. Currently, Ms. Laforest lives in Reims, France, while Mr. Beirs, an American, lives in Paris.
Duo Transatlantique's energetic and varied programming creates concerts "...of a rare freshness and modernity" (Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace) that is a celebration of the power of music and its ability to cross bridges, cultures, and time zones. In France, the duo has appeared at the Festival des Chapelles in Brittany, the Festival Européen Jeunes Talents in Paris, Les Jeudis Musicaux de Royan, and regularly performs outreach concerts in Paris and Reims.
In the United States, the duo has performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Phillips Collection, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, the Music in the Great Hall series, and An Die Musik as well as for the New York, Baltimore, Knoxville, New York, South Bay and Triangle Classical Guitar Societies. During their tour of England in the fall of 2010, they were praised for their "faultless display of ensemble work" (Kidderminster Shuttle) and demonstrated "one of the finest displays of partnership." (West Sussex Guitar Club)
The Duo provided an unforgettable experience when they "headlined" the 25th anniversary gala of the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society in December of 2012. Their performance at the Baltimore Museum of Art brought a capacity crowd in the museum's auditorium to their feet, and they were virtually mobbed after the performance by fans who wanted autographs and CD's.
Their debut album, entitled "Le Gris et le Vert" (The Grey and the Green) includes music of Debussy, Scarlatti, Petit, Albeniz, and Villoldo. Their second album is entitled "From Moment to Moment." It features arrangements of the French film score "Amelie" by Yann Tiersen and includes music by Penicaud, Joplin, Bellinati, Scarlatti, L'Hoyer, and Franck. A third CD is anticipated for release in 2015.
The French magazine Guitare Classique writes, "The sonority is rich and one of the most flattering we've ever heard...don't hesitate to buy this CD!" Classical Music Sentinel says, "The versatility in their playing is reflected in the variety and different styles of pieces...by versatility, I mean the flexible, expressive approach and playing techniques they bring to every different piece, from the Baroque clarity of the Scarlatti, to the simple fun of the Joplin, and the melancholy of the Tiersen...performed here in a superb arrangement."
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Superbe ce midi, au Mans, le Duo Transatlantique est à Montfort, ce soir
Si vous les avez manqués ce midi, tout n'est pas perdu. Il vous reste une chance d'aller écouter et applaudir Maud Laforest et Ben Biers, les deux guitaristes du Duo Transatlantique aujourd'hui. Après leur très beau concert. … Que du bonheur !""
"This duo impresses by the synergy it displays in a repertoire both varied and ambitious.""