Wilson-McAllister Guitar Duo

Wilson-McAllister Guitar Duo. Duo active 1977-89 and comprised of Donald (William) Wilson (b Elrose, Sask, 21 Feb 1952; B MUS Toronto 1975), and Peter McAllister (b Collingwood, Ont, 19 Aug 1954; B MUS Toronto 1977). Both were students of Eli Kassner.

Wilson-McAllister Guitar Duo

Wilson-McAllister Guitar Duo. Duo active 1977-89 and comprised of Donald (William) Wilson (b Elrose, Sask, 21 Feb 1952; B MUS Toronto 1975), and Peter McAllister (b Collingwood, Ont, 19 Aug 1954; B MUS Toronto 1977). Both were students of Eli Kassner. Wilson also studied with Ako Ito of the Ito-Dorigny duo in France in 1978, and in 1980 the duo studied with Alexander Lagoya at the Académie Internationale d'Été in Nice, France. They won the 1978 CBC National Radio Auditions and were awarded $20,000 by the Floyd S. Chalmers Fund of the OAC in 1981. In 1980 they made a five week tour across Canada for JMC (YMC). They performed with the Tokyo Quartet in 1981 in Halifax and with the Orford String Quartet in 1982 in Toronto, and also appeared at the 1983 Algoma Fall Festival, the 1987 Guelph Spring Festival, and the 1978, 1981, and 1984 International Guitar Festivals in Toronto. They performed with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra, and on some 17 occasions with the Hamilton Philharmonic. They were well-received outside Canada (they made their seventh European tour in 1985) and composers Sergio Chiereghin from Italy and Pierre Jouvin and Pierre Petit from France dedicated works to them.

The duo commissioned and performed over 25 new works including Kristi Allik's Cool Jazz (1986), Robert Bauer's Ottawa 1980, John Thrower's Dreams (1983), Lothar Klein's Tombeau (1981), Srul Irving Glick's Dance Suite (1986), David Jaeger's Side Car (1986), Monte Keene Pishny-Floyd's Sonata (1988), John Hawkins' Two Popular Pieces (1987), Talivaldis Kenins' Suite en concert (1987), and Milton Barnes' Concerto (1987). Wilson, who studied composition with Murray Adaskin at the University of Saskatchewan 1970-2 and with John Weinzweig at the University of Toronto 1973-5, contributed several works to the duo's repertoire including Popsong (1984) and Bluegrass (1978) which they recorded in 1985 on Duets for Spanish Guitars (Fanfare DFL-8012X), the album chosen by Columbia in July 1986 as record of the month. They also wrote their own arrangements of such pieces as Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata and Bach's English Suite No. 3. The duo premiered Murray Adaskin's Divertimento No. 5 for two guitars and chamber orchestra with the Saskatoon SO in 1981, Sonoridades 1981 by Uruguayan.composer Guido Santorsola in 1981, and Knots by Japanese composer Jo Kondo for two guitars, electric piano and seven cowbells in 1983.

The Wilson-McAllister Guitar Duo avoided the solo/accompaniment style of duet playing, insisting that compositions in their repertoire allow them to pass thematic material back and forth, and organizing fingering and phrasing to allow for the most perfect blend. During their 1982 European tour, critic Richard Beuth wrote 'Even more than the precise togetherness of this duet's ensemble playing, with the leading voice constantly trading, what fascinates the listener about these two Canadians is their richness of tonal colours, which were capable of sounding like a complete string orchestra'.(Die Welt, 11 Nov 1982).

Both Wilson and McAllister have taught at the RCMT, Georgian College, Seneca College, the University of Guelph, the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, and the Bern Conservatory in Switzerland. They have been heard on the BBC, CBC, Radio France, Radio Bremen and Radio Zurich.

McAllister began teaching at the RCMT in 1981, at McMaster University in 1986, and at the University of Toronto in 1987; he continued to teach at all three in 1991. He performed the Canadian premiere of Richard Rodney Bennett's Guitar Concerto with the Hamilton Philharmonic in 1989. He has composed or arranged pieces for the RCMT Guitar syllabus and is an active adjudicator.

In 1991 Wilson was not active as a performer or composer.

Writings

'Launching a career: tips for the aspiring classical guitarist,' Guitar Canada, vol 1, Jun 1987


Further Reading

  • Kaptainis, Arthur. 'Balance is the key for duo,' CanComp, 176, Dec 1982

    Harting, Lynn. 'Two is better than one: the Wilson McAllister Duo,' Guitar Canada, vol 1, Oct 1986