Formed in 2002, Duo Transatlantique combines the prize-winning talents of guitarists Benjamin Beirs and Maud Laforest. Almost immediately after beginning their studies in 2002 at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, the two decided to form a guitar duo, under the guidance of Julian Gray, an acclaimed chamber musician and founder of the Gray-Pearl guitar duo. Early in their collaboration they realized that their ensemble had the potential to last far longer than the years they were planning to spend at Peabody. Soon, in 2005, Ben embarked on his first journey to France, where the duo won first prize in the Union Francaise des Artistes Musiciens Guitar Duo Competition and played a concert in the American Cathedral in Paris. Currently, Ms. Laforest lives in Lille, France, while Mr. Beirs has stayed in Baltimore.
Duo Transatlantique is a celebration of the power of music and its ability to cross bridges, cultures, and time zones. To that end, the duo gives concerts frequently throughout the year in both countries. In France, the duo has appeared at the Festival des Chapelles in Brittany, the Festival de la Rochepot in Bourgogne, in churches throughout Paris, and has performed for the musical outreach group Coeur en Fête. In the United States, the duo has performed at the Kennedy Center for the performing arts, at the Peabody Conservatory of music, as well as for the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society, where they performed for the society's "Young Talent" concert series, premiering "Chupacabra", a piece written for Duo Transatlantique by American composer Christopher Gainey and commissioned by the BCGS. Similarly, a famed French composer, Eric Pénicaud, has just dedicated his "Little Suite for Children" to the duo.
They have recorded a debut album entitled "Le Gris et le Vert" (The grey and the green) which includes music of Debussy, Scarlatti, Petit, Albeniz, and Villoldo.
"This dynamic young guitar duo will entrance you with the drama and variety of their performances. A concert by Duo Transatlantique is a "don't miss" musical opportunity!" – Peter Landgren, Director, Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory
"Benjamin Beirs and Maud Laforest are resolutely virtuosic and their concert elicited many reactions of admiration. Certain people such as Chrisine ... are enthusiastic: 'their playing is magnificent and inspires me enormously'. Karen and Franck are completely ecstatic: 'it's the best concert we've ever heard'" – Les dernières nouvelles d‘Alsace - 11/28/2008
"They played not only with technical perfection, but also with passion and feeling, keeping an uncanny, delicate balance between them. They were received with enormous enthusiasm and my office received a number of requests for their contact information in the days following this performance." – William R. Brody, President, Johns Hopkins University
"Duo Transatlantique combines the considerable talents of two young musicians helping to create the future of the guitar. They use their impeccable ensemble and brilliant virtuosity to create performances of rhythmic verve and passionate lyricism. Not to be missed." – Julian Gray, Peabody Institute guitar faculty Website