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Baba Yaga

Karen Dufour - saxophone
Gwen Sinclair - harp

19 October 2019

Pictures at an Exhibition, Modest Mussorgsky
J.C Bach

Baba Yaga are the unusual combination of saxophone (Karen Dufour) and the harp (Gwen Sinclair). The name of the duo refers to one of the movements from ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ by Modest Mussorgsky, inspired by a witch from Russian folklore. Taking advantage of the varied sound colours from the unusual combination of harp and saxophone, they will explore original Mussorgsky’s masterwork with their own transcription in a new and unique way, as well as performing music by J.C Bach, Debussy and Bruch. 

Gwen and Karen met whilst studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and have forged this musical partnership discovering new and original repertoire for saxophone and harp. An extended period of development, including being selected to take part in Enterprise Music Scotland's Creative Exchange at Crear, enabled them to complete their main project of transcribing Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition which they have since performed many times throughout Scotland.

Gwen grew up in St. Andrews and moved to Glasgow in 1999 to study with Karen Vaughan (co-principal harp, LSO), graduating in 2004 with a BA (hons) and PGDipMusic (Performance). Since then Gwen has been enjoying a busy and varied freelance career playing with professional orchestras, working in chamber groups and performing at weddings. After many years teaching the clarsach at Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu and pedal harp in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's junior department, Gwen is now Curator of Music at Renfield St. Stephen's Church in Glasgow.

In addition to classical music on the pedal harp Gwen also performs with the clarsach and the traditional music of Scotland and Wales. She was part of the ground-breaking project 10 Mewn Bws in Wales and also performs in the duo, Tornish, with flautist Tim Orrell. Gwen has published three books of music for clàrsach, published by Alaw Music.

Graduating with a Masters degree in saxophone performance Karen studied with Josef Pacewicz. During her studies she won the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Apprenticeship Scheme and the Mary D Adams Prize for Chamber Music. In 2011 Karen was awarded the Creative Scotland Personal Development Award allowing her to study in Europe with soprano saxophonist Christine Rall, of the Rascher Saxophone Quartet.

She now enjoys a varied career of chamber and orchestral music including performing with the orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Karen has performed for many dignitaries including Prince Andrew, Prince Charles and Lady Camilla Parker Bowles and one of the world's most famous enthusiast of the saxophone, former US President Bill Clinton. Recent projects include working with 2018 Turner prize winner, Charlotte Prodger and deputising on the UK Love Actually tour.

Karen is the soprano saxophonist in the award-winning saxophone quartet Sax Ecosse. Recipients of the Enterprise Music Scotland Residency Project 2008, they are alumni of the prestigious Live Music Now scheme. Sax Ecosse have enjoyed great success as a chamber group performing in Europe and the UK including The Edinburgh International Festival, returning artists at The Emerging Artist Series- The Usher Hall 2012 and 2009, Celtic Connections, the 16th World Saxophone Congress, St Andrew's and 14th World Saxophone Congress, Slovenia, Norway’s St Olav’s Festival and collaborations with Maltings Theatre. They have also performed live on BBC Radio Scotland - Classics Unwrapped.