Retorica Violin Duo,England, 2011
Tour Dates
  • 11 Nov - 22 Nov, 2011

Tour Dates: 11 Nov - 22 Nov, 2011

"Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo are both exceptional violinists; together they have an instinctive rapport which makes them one of the most exciting duos around."
-David Matthews, composer


Ticket Information:

12th Nov, Dalian Development Area Grand Theatre, hot-line: 0411-87935611
13th Nov, National Centre for the Performing Arts, hot-line: 010-66550000
18th Nov, Guangzhou Tianhe Cultural Centre, hot-line: 020-39792237/ 39792207
19th Nov, Dongguan Cultural Weekend Theatre, hot-line: 0769-22465888
20th Nov, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, hot-line: 021-68541234



-(Retorica, definition: Italian feminine form of 'rhetoric' – artful persuasion.....)

Philippa and Harriet met at the Royal Academy of Music, where they discovered a shared passion for contemporary music as well as the wealth of rarely heard repertoire for two violins. Since performing together for the first time in 2007, highlights have included recitals at the Barbican Centre as part of Mostly Mozart Festival, at Goldsmith's Centre for Russian Music, a tour of Greece and their involvement in the 2D2N Festival of contemporary Music in Odessa. Music has been written and dedicated to the duo by a number of eminent composers. As well as this exciting new repertoire, Retorica perform duos by Mozart, Haydn, Leclair, Prokofiev, Ligeti, Telemann, Handel, Gorecki, Honegger, as well their arrangements of Bach Inventions and the famous folk-derived duos by Bartok.

Last summer, Retorica presented a concert series celebrating British and Kazakh new music at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, in response to the exhibition 'Kazakh Craftswomen of the rich Mongolian cradle'.

Harriet Mackenzie has toured Europe, America and Japan as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. She has given recitals in such prestigious venues as the Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room as part of the Park Lane Young Artists series, the Concertgebouwe and the Beers Van Berlage Hall in Amsterdam, the Marble Hall in Budapest, Leeds International Concert Season, the Expo Dome in Japan - which was broadcast on Japanese National television, St Martin- in-the-Fields and she was invited to return to the Wigmore Hall again for the closing concert of Steven Isserlis's Saint Saens festival, playing with the Florestan Trio. She has broadcast recitals 'live' for BBC Radio 3 and for Hungarian National Radio. Harriet played Sibelius Concerto with the Ukraine Philharmonic at the Chernigiv Festival in 2002 and has subsequently been invited back every year, including a performance of Brahms violin concerto in the Lysenko Hall of the Marble Columns in Kyiv.

Harriet studied at the Royal Academy of Music graduating with first class honours, MMus and Dip RAM – the highest award for graduates.

Harriet performed the premiere of a violin concerto, written for and dedicated to her by Robert Fokkens, in the Purcell Room to great acclaim with the New Professionals Orchestra. She was lent a Stradivarius violin by the Academy for this performance. She also wrote the music and performed solo violin on stage for the acclaimed production of Chekhov's 'The Seagull' directed by Daniel Austin, in Jersey. Other chamber music experiences include performing with the Carducci quartet, the Badke quartet, and violinist Nicola Bernadetti. 2010 will see her premiering another violin concerto written and dedicated to her by the composer Graham Coatman. She also has a busy performing schedule with her unique group Kosmos performing their own compositions, arrangements and improvisations inspired by Gypsy, Balkan, Jewish, Jazz and Tango Music with accordionist Milos Milivojevic and pianist Christopher Glynn.

Playing a violin by Julius Cesare Gigli from 1786, Phillipa Mo studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing with Professor Lin Yao Ji. Her studies were supported by the Belmore Woodgate Scholarship and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. Since finishing her research studies culminating in the award of an MMus degree, Philippa now performs extensively as a chamber musician. She has given concerto and chamber performances all over Europe; including her acclaimed debut at the Wigmore Hall, the premiere of the revised Fugue Refractions by Jim Aitchison at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, the Beethoven Series at St John's, Smith Square, London and performances at the Deutsches Museum, Munich; the Natural History Museum, Ulaan Bataar, the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and The Tate St Ives in the UK and televised performances in Turkey as part of the Ankara International Music Festival with Orkestra@Modern.

As a founding member of Convergence Quartet based jointly in London and New York, Philippa gave a recital at Lincoln Center, New York and across London. With pianist Maria Krivenski, she has concentrated on largely unknown and new music of South America.

She was as the only British musician invited to participate as soloist in the International Music Festival of Contemporary Music, Mongolia in 2002 where she gave a programme of new British works in the State Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Palace of Culture, Ulaan Bataarm, and also amongst the dunes of the Gobi Desert and at Erdene Zuu Khiid, the capital of Genghis Khan.

A champion of contemporary music, Philippa has given recital/discussions and workshops on British music at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, working with composer Professor Jia Guo Ping, and at Bilkent and Hacettep Universities in Ankara, Turkey. She also regularly returns to coach students of the Kurmangazy National Conservatory of Kazakhstan in Almaty where in June of this year, she gave a televised interview and performance of British contemporary music.


Retorica Violin Duo, Reviews

"Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo are both exceptional violinists; together they have an instinctive rapport which makes them one of the most exciting duos around"
-David Matthews, composer

"Hidden festival gem

Few could have expected the concert to be this was a case of not just pretty faces… for a show of dynamics David Matthews's 8 Duos and John McCabe's Spielend for two violins demonstrated the musicality of these two young performers. Their attack and bite was as youthful and invigorating as their obvious enjoyment of their fusion. They loved the sound they made; and so did the turned out to be one of the gems of the festival"
-Reg Burnard, "This is Wiltshire"Corsham Festival performance, June 2009

Retorica is one incredible instrument comprised of two outstanding musicians. Harriet and Philippa have propelled the combination of a duo of violins into a wholly persuasive and essential one, achieving a balance that contains and supports itself beautifully throughout its range and texture. It is very rare to experience such compelling musical verve in combination with finely judged expression, committed attention to detail and strong formal understanding and across such a wide range of repertoire. As a composer, it is a privilege to work with musicians who put so much into preparation and performance and who can take a new piece and transform it into something they own and that far exceeds the original idea. As an ensemble, Retorica are seizing the moment to take contemporary string playing into groundbreaking territory as a significant force for commissioning a whole new repertoire for this wonderful medium in ways that engage deeply with so many aspects of the worlds around us.
-JimAitchison, composer 2008

Few could have expected the concert to be this good…it was a case of not just pretty faces… for a show of dynamics, David Matthews'Eight Duos and John McCabe's Spielend for two violins demonstrated the musicality of these two young performers. Their attack and bite were as youthful and invigorating as their obvious enjoyment of their fusion. They loved the sound they made and so did the audience…it turned out to be one of the gems of the festival.
-Reg Burnard, "This is Wiltshire", Review of Corsham Festival, June 2009

Retorica are two superb young violinists whose work as a duo reveals just how rich the repertoire for two violins is. They are immensely communicative, both in spoken introductions and in their unfailingly musical playing, and their repertoire covers a huge range of styles. If people ever think music for two violins might be a bit dull, Retorica will totally change their minds!
-John McCabe, composer 2010

Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo are both exceptional young violinists; together they have an instinctive rapport which makes them one of the most exciting duos around.
-David Matthews, composer, 2007

Retorica were a big hit at the Bedford Park Festival.
-Torin Douglas, BBC Media Correspondent, Radio 4, Bedford Park Festival, London June 2010

A series of concerts, performed by the violin duo Retorica, took place at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS in London in the summer of 2009 in connection with an exhibition of Central Asian crafts.

The concerts reflected the inspiration and creativity with which the duo embraces a truly varied repertoire. Speaking to the themes and contents of the exhibition, the programmes of the three concerts spanned a range from Baroque and classical music, pieces by Central Asian composers, interpretations of folk tunes, and pieces composed for the duo and for this series of concerts in particular by British composers. The programme thus culminated in the World Premiere of a piece written by British composer Jim Aitchison, forming a direct response to the exhibits.

The duo created a musical programme that engaged with the artefacts on display, and the performances took place against the backdrop of the artefacts in order to allow audiences to consider the artefacts and music together. Responses from the audience were incredibly positive. The duo's performances breathed life into the exhibits and added vibrancy and inspiration to the audience's experiences. The duo embraced an extensive range of musical expression and the concerts were delivered with dedication and sensitivity, and the precision and professionalism that is typical of the duo.
-Dr. Anna Portisch, Research Associate, School of Oriental and African Studies, London and Curator of the exhibition ‘Kazakh Craftswomen of the Rich Mongolian Cradle', Brunei Gallery, London 9 July, 25 August and 19 September 2009

Harriet Mackenzie

"Searing intensity...... A performance full of panache..... captivating"
-The Strad, Edward Bhesania, July 2006

"vibrantly intense yet hypnotic playing."
-The Times Review – Richard Morisson, Purcell Room

"My puny brain still reels from trying to absorb this action-packed concert, part of the Fresh Young Musicians series. It began as a violin and piano recital, expanded into the weird, wacky, theatrical world of Mauricio Kagel, and ended with 18 people crammed on the platform to premiere a new concerto by the young South African Robert Fokkens. You can attend whole seasons by some famous orchestras and not get this much novelty.

At the centre of this merry-go-round was the violinist Harriet Mackenzie, not long graduated from the Royal Academy of Music (and borrowing an RAM Strad for the occasion), but already a formidably well-organised talent. Every piece was contemporary apart from the first, and even that was unknown — Arnold Bax's unpublished 1928 Violin Sonata, plucked from a manuscript in the British Library... It was all impeccably prepared. I'd like to hear it all again."
- Country Life – Anthony Payne

"The outstanding violinist Harriet Mackenzie and fine pianist Christopher Glynn showed what real performance is all about, not just accuracy and technical command, but imaginative daring"
-The Strad – Catherine Nelson

"..electrified the Purcell Room ... a gust of fresh air guaranteed to drive away the post- Christmas blues... violinist Harriet Mackenzie lived up to expectations and more with her sturdy vibrant tone and gift for communicating the most diverse of pieces. She opened with Adam Gorb's virtuosic solo work and played its heart rendering melodies and angular, percussive rhythms with searing intensity. .... a performance full of panache....captivating. "

Phillipa Mo

"A knock-out from start to finish."
-The Guardian

"24 Miniatures (2000) by Laurent Perrenoud, for violin and percussion, was riveting. Philippa Mo stood stock still, playing all manner and style of phrases in all 24 keys – in snatches of less than 12 bars each. David Jackson, meanwhile, kept busy running from drum to triangle to tubular bells and many other instruments besides. The ingenuity of the writing was quite dazzling; so was the playing – the expertise of Mo's near-instantaneous transitions from one style to another was often startling and always impressive."
-Classical Source, Kenneth Carter, 2007 – The Wigmore Hall

"A little cracker"
-The Times, Richard Morrison, 2004

"…thought provoking and exciting…"
-Musicweb, 2004