Cellist Heleen du Plessis and marimba player Yoshiko Tsuruta are Duo Co Legno - a rare instrumental combination - are on their way to Whanganui.

They will perform as part of the Chamber Music Wanganui's Celebrity Subscription Series on May 18.

Formed in 2014, they have since developed a wide and exciting repertoire – celebrating a huge variety of musical styles from all over the world.

They will share a diverse programme that brings together Tchaikovsky, Arvo Pärt, traditional Japanese songs and the infectious rhythms of Bulgarian guitarist and composer, Atanas Ourkouzounov.

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They have also commissioned Wellington-based composer Gareth Farr to write a new work for their tour.

Tahu-nui-ā-Rangi is the first work ever written for cello and marimba in New Zealand and relates to the Southern Lights - Aurora Australis.

Farr has blended the sound of a string and a percussion instrument by using extended techniques, such as bowing the marimba to produce a unique sound that merges beautifully with the cello's artificial harmonics.

A string technique called col legno (with the wood) is used by the cellist to tap the string with the wooden part of the bow while the marimbist strikes the edge of the bar with the shaft of the mallets to create an exciting percussive effect from both instruments.

"This will be a thrilling and unusual performance," says Chamber Music Wanganui's Ingrid Culliford.

"The singing tone of Heleen's cello weaving through the reverberations of Yoshiko's marimba – the largest in New Zealand."

Culliford says both players are outstanding soloists.

"Yoshiko has won numerous national and international awards and Heleen performs in diverse settings and genres with many distinguished artists."

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Duo Co Legno: Saturday, May 18 at 7pm. Prince Edward Auditorium, Whanganui Collegiate School. Adults $35, seniors 32.00, subscribers $20, students $5. Tickets are available in advance from the Royal Wanganui Opera House Box Office, or at the door (no eftpos).