Sacred Waters - Darci Gamerl & David Downing - Bel Canto Duo's first joint commission by Patrick Drickey & Gallery 1516 for the documentary, Nebraska Flatwater. The  immersive video installation explores the nearly 80,000 miles of rivers,  and the beautiful, ever-changing landscape of Nebraska. 


Four Cather Tableaux - Darci Gamerl & David Downing

I. Nebraska: Pre-Settlement

II. 1880s Dawn

III. 1880s Dusk

IV. Nebraska: Post Settlement

Commissioned by the National Cather Center for the 150th celebration of American author - Four Cather Tableaux were inspired by Cather's poetry, essays & fictional work. Bel Canto Duo's soundscape breathe life into Cather's evocative portrayal of life on the prairie in the late 19th century.  

The work opens with Nebraska: Pre-Settlement, an excerpt from Cather's essay, "Nebraska: The End of the First Cycle". Dramatic, Copland-esque intervals bring to life Cather's powerful imagery depicting the Great Plains. The first theme morphs into a Lakota Sioux (Bear Butte) inspired melody that fades away on the wind - a musical depiction of the Pawnee being forced give up their lands and departing Nebraska for Indian Territory in Oklahoma. 

A slow sunrise, Dawn was inspired by Cather's "A Lost Lady", incorporates instrumental text painting of dawn on the prairie with sweeping melodies depicting native grasses, wildflowers and birds. It concludes with the cello foreshadowing the bookend of the day - Dusk. 

Drawing from “Prairie Spring,April Twilights & Other Poems", Dusk weaves its' magic through lush, lyrical poetry that Cather employs so skillfully. Mesmeric cello lines incorporate arpeggiated chords reminiscent of a classical guitarist, with sensuous English horn interweaving seamlessly transporting the listener into an otherworldly state.

Nebraska: Post-Settlement channels the joy of Cather's selection from "One of Ours". It portrays the exhaustion of harvest & agrarian society in the 1880s. The oppressive, stifling heat of late-July transitions from a minimalist, solitary English horn to a joyous, energetic fanfare that fades away as the sun rises again.

2. Nebraska, Pre-Settlement

"The State of Nebraska is part of the great plain which stretches west of the Missouri River,

gradually rising until it reaches the Rocky Mountains. The character of all this country

between the river and the mountains is essentially the same throughout its extent: a

rolling, alluvial plain, growing gradually more sandy toward the west, until it breaks into

the white sand-hills of western Nebraska and Kansas and eastern Colorado.

While they [freighters] were out in that sea of waving grass, one day was like another; and,

if one can trust the memory of these old men, all the days were glorious. The buffalo trails

still ran north and south then; deep, dusty paths the bison wore when, single file, they

came north in the spring for the summer grass, and went south again in the autumn. Along

these trails were the buffalo "wallows"—shallow depressions where the rain water

gathered when it ran off the tough prairie sod. These wallows the big beasts wore deeper

and packed hard when they rolled about and bathed in the pools, so that they held water

like a cement bottom . . . The grass was full of quail and prairie chickens, and flocks of wild

ducks swam about on the lagoons. These lagoons have long since disappeared, but they

were beautiful things in their time; long stretches where the rain water gathered and lay

clear on a grassy bottom without mud . . . The freighters could recognize the lagoons from

afar by the clouds of golden coreopsis which grew up out of the water and waved

delicately above its surface."

– “Nebraska: The End of the First Cycle”

3. Dawn

"The sky was burning with the soft pink and silver of a cloudless summer dawn. The heavy,

bowed grasses splashed him to the knees. All over the marsh, snow-on-the-mountain,

globed with dew, made cool sheets of silver, and the swamp milk-weed spread its flat,

raspberry-coloured clusters. There was an almost religious purity about the fresh morning

air, the tender sky, the grass and flowers with the sheen of early dew upon them. There

was in all living things something limpid and joyous—like the wet, morning call of the birds,

flying up through the unstained atmosphere. Out of the saffron east a thin, yellow,

wine-like sunshine began to gild the fragrant meadows and the glistening tops of the grove

. . . Under the bluffs that overhung the marsh he came upon thickets of wild roses, with

flaming buds, just beginning to open. Where they had opened, their petals were stained

with that burning rose-colour which is always gone by noon,—a dye made of sunlight and

morning and moisture, so intense that it cannot possibly last . . . must fade, like ecstasy."

– A Lost Lady

4. Dusk

Evening and the flat land,

Rich and somber and always silent;

The miles of fresh-plowed soil,

Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;

The growing wheat, the growing weeds,

The toiling horses, the tired men;

The long, empty roads,

Sullen fires of sunset, fading,

The eternal, unresponsive sky.

Against all this, Youth,

Flaming like the wild roses,

Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,

Flashing like a star out of the twilight;

Youth with its insupportable sweetness,

Its fierce necessity,

Its sharp desire;

Singing and singing,

Out of the lips of silence,

Out of the earthy dusk.

– “Prairie Spring,” April Twilights & Other Poems

"The middle of July came, and the farmers were still cutting grain. The yield of wheat and

oats was so heavy that there were not machines enough to thrash it within the usual time.

Men had to await their turn, letting their grain stand in shock until a belching black engine

lumbered into the field. . . Every morning the sun came up a red ball, quickly drank the dew,

and started a quivering excitement in all living things. In great harvest seasons like that

one, the heat, the intense light, and the important work in hand draw people together and

make them friendly. Neighbours helped each other to cope with the burdensome

abundance of man-nourishing grain; women and children and old men fell to and did what

they could to save and house it. Even the horses had a more varied and sociable existence

than usual, going about from one farm to another to help neighbour horses drag wagons

and binders and headers. . . The sun was like a great visiting presence that stimulated and

took its due from all animal energy. When it flung wide its cloak and stepped down over

the edge of the fields at evening, it left behind it a spent and exhausted world. Horses and

men and women grew thin, seethed all day in their own sweat. After supper they dropped

over and slept anywhere at all, until the red dawn broke clear in the east again, like the

fanfare of trumpets, and nerves and muscles began to quiver with the solar heat."

– One of Ours


The Seven Directions - Darci Gamerl

The Seven Directions is a musical journey based on Native American prayers and the creation of sacred space. The traditional four directions draw on musical elements from their respective traditions (East - Middle Eastern modal music, North - Gregorian chant, West -tango, and the warm winds of the south). The Earth and Sky are representative of the plight of the Earth with a maraca replicating a rattlesnake-type warning, the singing bowl intoning each change of direction. Earth moves to the skies in the pentultimate section, with a mournful intoning of a melodic fragment inspired by Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, Mvt 2, "Mother, do not weep." The work closes with an joyous, rich chorus of the heart - uniting together at the end in one voice. 


Cloudwalker - Darci Gamerl 

This work was inspired by the brave example of a close friend and healer. The opening incoporates the three-note 'fate' motif, an excerpt from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. Fate moves between the cello and oboe, opening up to an expansive improvised middle section. We recorded this album in our living room, and the improvisation was done in a single live take. Fate returns for an encore act - a sobering reflection on the life, and the invaluable gift of time with those we love.


At Long Last - Darci Gamerl

This work was inspired by the very first wedding that we played as a duo. It is dedicated to the happy couple - Opal & Steve. Their love story is inspirational, as they found each other (online - no less!) in their golden years. In spite of a devastating cancer prognosis, they celebrate their love together to this day! The music opens tentatively followed by a lush interplay intwoven between the cello and oboe lines - a nod to the beautiful orchestration and writing of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

TRACK 9 & 10

Glowan - Darci Gamerl 

Old English for the last light of the day, depicts the slow, agonizing journey of terminal illness. The repeated rhythmic motifs symbolic of the passing of time, and the acknowledgement and final surrender to what lies beyond this mortal realm.

Seikilos - Darci Gamerl 

Singing bowls intone the ancient voices of the past - Seikilos, and his beloved wife. An energetic, intense cello line precedes the English horn who intones one of the oldest melodies known to civilization. It is then repeated in stark isolation with a lone singing bowl - a voice from the past with words of wisdom and a heartfelt memoriam to his wife's memory. 

"As long as you live - shine. 

Let nothing grieve you beyond measure. 

For life is short & time will take its toll."

-Epitaph of Seikilos, Greece 200 CE 


Prelude-Ave Maria REMIX - Bach - Gounod

As classically trained musicians, our roots run deep when it comes to our love of classical music, as does our construction of a entrepreneurial career in classical music! Our approach on this selection was to pivot, and to bring excellent musicianship to the table, with the mixing skills of our engineer, Tom Ware. The work combines the Prelude from J.S. Bach's 1st Cello Suite with the Ave Maria of Charles Gounod which quickly digresses into a captivating counterpoint. Enjoy!