Taking its name from a rich and evocative work by the late Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe, Sea and Sky references a duality, the individual and ensemble characteristics of the musicians are present – from the improvisational inventiveness, flying solos and virtuosic flair of François Houle; the poetic mastery, fierce power and musical depth of Jane Hayes; to the fused interpretation of classics and brave new worlds of clarinet and piano.
François Houle & Jane Hayes have been collaborating for over 10 years to bring fascinating and unusual programs to new audiences across Canada. Having performed together as members of Turning Point Ensemble and Vancouver New Music Ensemble, these two outstanding musicians felt the urge to explore the clarinet and piano repertoire to uncover rarely heard gems, regardless of era, genre, and style. Their unique repertoire ranges from the classics of the clarinet literature to newly commissioned works. The duo has presented concerts throughout BC, as well as featured performances at BC Scene (National Arts Centre), Capacoa Conference and BC Touring Showcases. An important Canada Council commission for a new work for clarinet, piano and electroacoustic by Montreal-based composer Paul Dolden led to François and Jane calling on composer friends to write works for the duo. This has culminated in the recording and release of their “Sassicaia” CD in March of 2015 in Pyatt Hall. The CD is nominated for Best Classical Album of 2015 at the Western Canadian Music Awards. At the same time, the duo recorded another CD of works bound together by the Latin hallmarks of infectious rhythm and exquisite melody. This CD, called “Zarabandeo”, was launched in the spring of 2015.
Both musicians are respected educators in the lower mainland. François is a faculty member at the Vancouver Community College School of Music, and clarinet studio instructor at UBC School of Music. In 2008, he was appointed an “Associate Composer” of the Canadian Music Centre. Previously nominated for Juno awards and Western Canadian Music Awards, He has been listed on several occasions in Downbeat Magazine’s Critics and Readers Pools as “Rising Star”. François's performances have taken him to four continents, with only Africa remaining on his bucket list. Jane is Director of Keyboard Studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley, where she has just received the Faculty of Arts “Distinguished Teacher” Award. This last spring, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Scriabin, Jane gave multimedia presentations as part of the Yarilo ensemble in key European centres, including Moscow, Sophia, Tel Aviv and Zurich.