"It was an evening designed to entertain… with a wide-ranging, anything-goes sense of fun. Wonderfully imaginative… smile-inducing… impressive."
- Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post (Washington, DC)
"The mastery of the performance was exquisite… together, they became a single body of energy. The impact was huge."
- Makiko Ishihara, Bits Lounge Magazine (Toronto, ON)
"…opening listeners’ minds to sounds and ideas they’d never previously considered…"
- Aidan Connolly, Executive Director, Irish Arts Center (New York, NY)
Fiddle-dancing for thousands in Tiananmen Square. A flute concert on skis in the mountains of Vermont. Couchsurfing parties in the Arctic Circle. A cross-country caper in a busted $500 minivan. Adventure abounds when art rules life, and sharing it with the world is what Sonic Escape’s about!
Shawn Wyckoff and Maria Millar founded Sonic Escape in 2009. Armed with flute & violin, their game plan – use hyper-instrumentals to fill hearts with indescribable joy – has landed them on hundreds of stages across 40 North American states, provinces and beyond (click to see where)! Maria and Shawn push themselves to the brink – singing, dancing, telling stories, and above all, playing their hearts out with a “wonderfully imaginative… anything goes sense of fun” (The Washington Post).
Maria and Shawn have galvanized audiences at Lincoln Center, Chautauqua Institution, Kennedy Center, Radio City Music Hall, The Gershwin Theatre on Broadway and Carnegie Hall. Their workshops and residencies have empowered students from Iqaluit, Nunavut down to Montgomery, Alabama and even their alma mater, The Juilliard School. Canada Council for the Arts, Chamber Music America and the Puffin Foundation have generously funded Sonic Escape's compositions, travels, and the creation of a 5-day community residency.
Maria Kaneko Millar
Violinist and composer Maria Kaneko Millar has performed as a soloist throughout Canada, Ireland, China, Japan and the US; The Canadian, British and American Broadcasting Corporations as well as The WB’s One World Jam, CBS Sunday Morning and CBS The Early Show have aired her work. 170 performances as Solo Dancing Fiddler in Riverdance On Broadway and the North American and Asian Tours of Riverdance: The Show featured improvised solos and simultaneous dance. Maria also performed in Radio City Music Hall’s One World Jam and premiered her creation for 5 prerecorded violin tracks and 1 live dancing violinist, All for One, on CBC’s nationally televised The Great Canadian Music Dream. Maria has toured North America with her one-woman show of original works for violin, voice and dance, playing venues such as The Kennedy Center and The Library & Archives of Canada. Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council have awarded Maria with composition and space grants; Samson sponsors Maria, providing audio, wireless and effects processing equipment specific to her roles as singer, acoustic/electric violinist and dancer. Maria lives to improvise: her arrangements and aural transcriptions of Asian, Celtic, Gypsy, Klezmer, Tango, Turkish, blues, jazz, pop, rock and classical music have laid the foundation for fearless ad-libbing in any setting. Maria holds accelerated BM/MM’s in Violin Performance from The Juilliard School.
Flutist Shawn Wyckoff is an avid solo and chamber musician who has been featured in performances at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, The Kennedy Center, Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, The Library of Congress, BargeMusic, MOMA and the Guggenheim Museum. Shawn is the artistic director, flutist and music arranger for TetraWind, a woodwind quartet specializing in contemporary American music. Shawn’s orchestral work includes concerts with Continuum, One World Symphony and The Harmonia Opera Company. Shawn is a First Prize winner of The Judith Lapple National Flute Competition, the Flute Society of Washington Competition and The Friday Morning Music Club Woodwind Competition. He was named a Maryland Distinguished Scholar of the Arts and received the Stephen Brewster Award (as chosen by a panel of National Symphony Orchestra musicians), the John Philip Sousa Award and the National Alliance for Excellence Award. Shawn holds a BM in Flute Performance from The Juilliard School.
Their most ambitious program yet, Humanity is every ounce of soul and technique Shawn and Maria can muster; a juxtaposition of naked instrumentals with loops, tracks and beats to conjure up a universe. Humanity opens with its namesake: a tale of love found and lost told through breath, bow strokes and movement. The odyssey comes to life as Maria and Shawn’s original works speak to the human conditions of joy, fear, redemption and triumph. Cover songs – including a revamp of Game of Thrones infused with Celtic grooves and tunes – punctuate the new with the familiar. Ultimately, Humanity is about finding connection using music, stories and interaction to unite performer and audience in an unforgettable adventure!
Repertoire to also include:
Bach in Ireland (J.S. Bach / Maria Millar), Walking the Woods in Twilight,Rise (with themes from Pachelbel's Canon) and the Medley from 'Game of Thrones' (Ramin Djawadi / arr. Maria Millar)
In Around the World, Shawn Wyckoff (flute) and Maria Millar (violin) perform a rich blend of classical and world music with luxurious tone, technical mastery and superb musicianship. The flute and violin are two of the most beloved instruments, and their likeness can be found in virtually every culture’s music. In this program of original compositions and arrangements created specifically for this dynamic ensemble, Sonic Escape takes you on a journey across borders, worlds and time with music from Germany, Ireland, Japan, China, the Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Uruguay, the United States and Canada.
Music-related master-classes are also possible, especially for more advanced students.
Concerto appearances with orchestras/youth orchestras
Four Seasons Rising - Maria Kaneko Millar
Concerto for solo violin and flute plus orchestra
An original work depicting life in four corners of North America and how climate change impacts it.
Video link to 2nd movement: https://youtu.be/XWg2uSW44fU
Timing: 25 minutes (can be trimmed if necessary)
Sonic Escape also offer an entertaining keynote address for conventions, corporate gatherings and conferences