Frances & I initially connected in 2014 when I was hired to play as part of an orchestra for Frances's annual Portraits of White Winter Concert. I immediately loved her music and her soulful personality and knew someday I'd love to work with her more.
Double Keyed was formed in 2019 when I approached her about playing along with her at Center Stage, a program at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center that brings in artists to enhance the experience for patients, visitors, nurses, doctors and staff alike. We performed together for a year until the Covid shutdown in March of 2020.
While there was a lull, we were still able to perform together twice in that time through Facebook Live events that we provided for the public.
On December 26, 2021, while I was baking cookies and listening to Christmas music, a thought struck me. Oboists need more quality Christmas music...can I make that happen? I immediately texted Frances and her response was with an immediate, "I LOVE that idea!"
Through a series of long discussions, Zooms, FaceTimes, telephone calls and messenger pigeons, we released our first Christmas album as Double Keyed on November 4, 2022!
Local Musicians Reach Number 13 on Billboard Chart with New Christmas Album
Midwinter’s Gift, Released on November 4 features original arrangements for oboe and piano
(LANCASTER, PA November 22) Just eleven days after releasing their Christmas album, local musicians Kirstin Myers and Frances Drost, of the group Double Keyed, today share that their album has charted at 13 on the Billboard Classical Crossover Chart. The album features Myers on oboe and English Horn and Drost on piano. The album takes listeners on a moving journey through seasonal favorites such as O Come O Come Emmanuel and Carol of the Bells.
“Oboe and English horn are often used to capture the mystery and elegance of the season and I was surprised to find so few holiday albums featuring this duo,” said Myers. “The Billboard charts confirm what Frances and I suspected, the combination of oboe and piano at Christmastime is a beautiful way to celebrate the season,” said Myers.
Midwinter’s Gift features 10 original arrangements, commissioned by Double Keyed from Nashville’s Phillip Keveren and was recorded in August 2022 at Wildwood Recording in Franklin, TN. Keveren is co-author, major composer and orchestrator of the internationally acclaimed Hal Leonard Student Piano Library, a complete method of study for young students. At the recording session Keveren sensed the project was special and stated that the album was going to be “world class.” Now on the Billboard Charts, and currently sharing chart space with Andrea Bocelli and Lindsey Stirling, Keveren’s instinct about the album proved correct.
Particularly poignant is the arrangement of Carol of the Bells, a song of Ukrainian origin, which he began arranging for the album about a month after the war began. He saved this arrangement for last, considering it could be a "tour de force" for Myers and Drost. "I could not escape the feeling of sadness as I approached this Ukrainian carol," Keveren stated in an email to the duo. "It seemed appropriate to start with a lament before leaping into the up-tempo material." Myers describes the end as “unexpected and hopeful, which reflects how most of us would like the war in Ukraine to end.”
“'Midwinter's Gift is our gift, first to ourselves as musicians, secondly to our families and the most fun surprise gift of all—a placement on the Billboard charts,” said Frances Drost, featured pianist on the album. “We have filled a Christmas void and have provided an inspiring, elegant, and world class Christmas album” said Drost.
Midwinter’s Gift can be found on all major streaming services. Digital downloads and CDs can be purchased at www.doublekeyed.bandcamp.com
"All I can say is Wow. I love it ! I keep playing it over and over. It is beautiful."
~ Sharon C.
"This is absolutely stunning. I’m loving the entire album! Bravo, ladies!!!"
~ Heather B.
"I just finished my first listen of the ‘Midwinter’s Gift’ CD. It’s amazing!!!!! I love the comments with the songs; and the arrangements are stellar!!!! The execution of the arrangements is a delight to listen to. You all nailed it!!!! Thanks so much."
~ Iris B.
"I have been listening to Double Keyed in my car. The music is just beautiful."
~ Mary S.
~ Craig G.
"The pieces are expressive, moving and artfully executed! Bravo!"
~ Rae M.
"Listening to the new music and absolutely LOVE IT!"
~ Cindy P.
"The CD is amazing!!"
~ Wanda D.
"It’s a wonderful album. My dad reports that he and my mother listen to it daily."
~ Elizabeth E.
Frances Drost has recorded 9 solo albums throughout her career, but her 10th, which is to be released on November 4, 2022, is one of collaboration. LBTN's co-host, Kirstin Myers, approached her last December after pondering the thought of recording a Christmas album with new arrangements for the oboe/English horn and piano. After this, the rest was history - but in our 11th podcast, Frances and Kirstin share their history of this past year. From the conception of the project, traveling to Nashville to record it to waiting for CDs to arrive, they discuss not only the technical process of recording, but all the fears, hopes and vulnerabilities that go along with it.
Arranged and produced by Nashville composer Phillip Keveren, "Midwinter's Gift" is a heartfelt and unique Christmas album that fills a gap in the oboe/English horn literature while also filling the listener with a sense of hope and peace. While many notes were played on this recording, listen in to this episode to find out what happened in-between them...and how it not only helped forge their friendship but how it changed these two musicians on their musical journeys.
From her early beginnings that were peppered with encouragement from her mother to play the piano, Newville Pennsylvania’s own singer/songwriter, Frances Drost, has paved a fascinating path with her musical career. During her childhood, Frances’s empathetic nature absorbed several tragedies in her family. Her intense feelings combined with her musical gifts have created a positive way of channeling her grief. In this episode, Frances discusses not only the impact her family has had on her life, but how she has been heavily influenced and inspired by Nashville artists and producers.
Frances’s passion to help others has been a common thread throughout her life. This is exemplified with her involvement as a worship leader, a songwriter for Songs of Love – a nonprofit organization that connects songwriters with terminally ill children, a pianist with Center Stage at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and with her creation of an interactive Facebook show called Hit Pause during the Covid shutdown which provided inspiration for many homebound people.
As you will hear, Frances exudes a love and passion for creating and performing music. This passion helped her work through not only the hurdles she encountered throughout her own life, but the challenges that the Covid shutdown presented all musicians. Her musical innovation has not only helped her career but has helped her many fans and friends navigate troubling times.
Recording since 2000 and with 9 released albums under her belt, Frances will be releasing her 10th album, Midwinter's Gift, co-produced with LBTN's Kirstin Myers on November 4th, 2022.
We know you will enjoy getting to know Frances’s life…between the notes.
The Spark’s Aniya Faulcon spoke with two local musicians who make up the classical music duo Double Keyed. Oboe and English horn player Kirstin Myers and pianist Frances Drost share what it was like to chart at 13 on the Billboard Classical Crossover chart just 11 days after the release of their Midwinter’s Gift Christmas album.
Order Billboard-charting “Midwinter’s Gift” here: https://doublekeyed.bandcamp.com/album/midwinters-gift
All Rights Reserved Double Keyed Music 2022
A live performance video from the 2019 Portraits of White Concert.
Midwinter was a title that presented itself early on when we were creating the album, “Midwinter's Gift”, based on the lovely song, “In The Bleak Midwinter”, written in the 1800's. From the very beginning, we both felt as if this album idea was a gift to each other as musicians, our families and new arrangements for the oboe community. Putting the words midwinter and gift together seemed like a natural progression. You'll appreciate the unfolding of the journey from bleakness to beauty in this new video featuring the title track.
"In the bleak midwinter,
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
— Christina Georgiana Rossetti (1830-1894)