A Genre-Bending Piano-Duo Is Getting Portland the Classical Latin It's Been Missing

“This the future,” Garcia says. “The future of everything.”

XX Digitus Duo wants you to remember that classical music performances started as a party. They were once all-inclusive and well-liquored social scenes. Momoko Muramatsu and Maria Garcia of XX Digitus Duo, a 20-finger piano duo, are joining a local circle of innovative performers like Third Angle to make the future of Portland's classical scene look more like that.

"This the future," Garcia says. "The future of everything."

Muramatsu and Garcia have an irreverent, tight friendship that they weave into live performances with repartee when their fingers stop. After studying together at New England Conservatory and traveling internationally on their own, the two women reunited in Portland two years ago to mash up classical, world, rock and modern music, all inspired by their shared Latin American musical heritage. Portland fine arts, they noticed, has a shocking gap where non-Western classical compositions should be.

Less than a year after releasing their debut album, Muramatsu and Garcia are about to drop a new, Regional Arts & Culture Council-funded record with a track list that reads like a back-and-forth between the 19th century and now. The album, 4+1, will include a piece written for a Puerto Rican dance orchestra in 1857 and a piece composed for XX Digitus Duo last year by Ken Selden, music director of the Portland State University Orchestra. The duo's fall tour includes everything from alternative covers in collaboration with other composers to Argentine classical pieces. There will even be a piece with dance. It's an almost dizzying party for listeners who equate classical with dry.

"There's a certain chaos that comes from making it all-inclusive," Garcia says. "To say that we're going to have only classical this or that excludes people.

"In this context," she adds, "maybe a little chaos is OK."

XX Digitus Duo plays at the University of Portland's Mago Hunt Recital Hall, 5000 N Willamette Blvd., 503-943-8000, on Wednesday, Sept. 28. 12:30 pm. Free. The duo plays at Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St., 503-719-6055, on Thursday, Nov. 3. 7:30 pm. $20.

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