The Magma Duo is named after the piece ‘In de Magmakamer’ (‘In the Magma Chamber’) by Reza Namavar, which was a work commissioned for the National Oskar Back Violin Competition 2011. During this edition of the competition, Emmy Storms (violin) and Cynthia Liem (piano) received the award for the best rendition of this compulsory piece, after which they decided to continue as a regular ensemble called the ‘Magma Duo’. Emmy and Cynthia have known each other since the start of their music degree studies at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. They immediately had a lot of fun together, and quickly converged into the same musical direction.
In 2014-2015, the Magma Duo was one of the laureates of the Dutch Classical Talent Tour and Award, a prestigious national concert tour and career development program for recently graduated musicians. This led to a concert tour past all major chamber music stages in The Netherlands, with lots of special publicity by Radio 4, the national classical music radio station, and own experiments in recital programming and audience outreach.
In 2014, the Magma Duo won first prize in the senior category of the ‘A Feast of Duos!’ international competition for violin-piano duos in Sion, Switzerland, as well as the special ‘Konzerthaus Prize’ and the ‘Käch Artists Prize’. This led to a debut at the Viennese Konzerthaus in May 2016, and a still-upcoming concert engagement organized by Käch Artists Management. Through their participation in this competition, the Magma Duo got the chance to work with Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo, who are among the duo’s greatest musical idols.
According to the judges of the Dutch Classical Talent Tour and Award auditions, the Magma Duo convinces through its ‘energetic playing which evokes reactions’. Indeed, the duo has a fiery, passionate stage presence, while also taking the joy that both Emmy and Cynthia have in performing together to the stage.
During duo rehearsals, the duo always leaves room for experiments, humor and spontaneity, which often leads to surprising, fresh insights. Always seeking out challenges, the duo enjoys going off the beaten path in terms of programming, with special interest in contemporary, Dutch and lesser-known repertoire. Following the example of Igudesman and Joo, the duo also increasingly has started to experiment with novel ways of stage presentation, including theatrical and cross-over elements. In all this, the mission of the duo always remains to be as convincing as possible in interpreting the message of a composer, and to be as accessible as possible in communicating this to the audience.
In March 2016, this led to a special co-produced project ‘Kinderspel/Toekomstmuziek’ (‘Child’s play/Music of the future’) with string orchestra ‘De Haagse Beek’ and stage director Frank Siera, in which works for orchestra, piano and violin were combined with poetry and theatrical elements, all reflecting on the circle of life.
In 2016, the debut CD of the Magma Duo was released with Globe Records, featuring multiple lesser-known and contemporary pieces to which the duo has a special connection.