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About Us

Variante (Vah-ree-auntay), Italian: to make variations on a theme.

One warm summer afternoon 30 years ago, fate brought harpist Nathalie Younglai and flutist Catherine Richardson together for a wedding – not theirs! Since then, they’ve performed at countless nuptial celebrations, corporate shindigs and have been featured guests artists at numerous concerts.

Through their music, they have donated thousands of hours of community service to MS Society, local food banks, and the Canadian Cancer Society, just to name a few.  Nathalie and Catherine sponsored the Variante Harp & Flute Duo Scholarship for the Burlington Rotary Music Festival for 20 years.  Once, they even ran a 5k race in support of the Halton Trauma Centre - but the instruments stayed in the car! Each Christmas season (until COVID changed the plan), the duo performs a concert with the entire proceeds going to the local food bank. 

The Variante Harp & Flute Duo is renowned for their dazzling variety of musical styles – from classical and jazz, to rock and beyond. In 2022, Nathalie and Catherine are celebrating 30 years together as a duo. They have 4 CDs to their credit. Variante Harp & Flute Duo and Cantiques de Noel are solo recordings, while Reunion and Celtic Charms are collaborations with musical friends - violin, percussion, and voice. Their CDs can be heard on CBC, and Classical 96.3FM.

The duo has been featured guest artists for Les Concerts Ponticello in Gatineau,  the Different Drummer Concert series in Burlington, and special guests at a Musical Gala held a St. James United Church in Toronto. 

Weddings and corporate gigs are their bread and butter. Concerts are their crème brulée.

harpNathalie Younglai

Nathalie started playing Suzuki violin at the age of 4. When she was 12, she decided 4 strings just weren’t enough, so she took the challenge of 44 more and studied Suzuki harp under the tutelage of Marie Lorcini. With the harp, she earned awards including the Toronto Kiwanis Scholarship and the Lee Hepner Award for musical excellence. Nathalie has soloed with the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and the Guelph Chamber Orchestra; and has played with the Te Deum Chamber Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic, Symphony Hamilton, the Toronto Youth Wind Ensemble, and the Guelph Concert Band. She created the soundtrack for a documentary about the Young Offender's Act.  Since 1992, Nathalie and Catherine have been the dynamic Variante Harp & Flute Duo. Their performances have not only made a difference in their own personal lives, but have brightened or comforted all those who hear them. 

When Nathalie isn't harping, she enjoys tapping into her inner child when she writes in Kids’ TV on such shows as Magic School Bus Rides Again, 16 Hudson, and Addison. She delves into deeper social justice issues when developing her own prime time drama series. Always interested in shaking things up and creating change, Nathalie founded BIPOC TV & Film, a grassroots organization advocating representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour in front and behind the camera. Through this organization, she has helped BIPOC creatives get hired in the industry, created a sense of community amongst peers and built relationships with allies who also want to see the Canadian TV industry reflect the world we live in. 

She received the ACTRA Diversity’s Sandi Ross Award, Ben Watkin’s Breakthrough Award, and Reelworld’s Trailblazer Award. Her nominations include an Ontario Colleges Premier Award, and a Daytime Emmy nomination for her writing on Dino Dana

Nathalie currently has a comedy and drama series in development with Canadian networks. She is a Writer/Co-Producer on CBC’s hit drama, Coroner, and is deeply honored to be the recipient of The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s 2020 Humanitarian Award, The WGC Alex Barris Mentorship Award and was named NOW Magazine Trailblazer.

Nathalie enjoys spending time with her husband, and following her daughter's dreams and creative adventures. www.nathalieyounglai.com

fluteCatherine Richardson

Catherine is a graduate of the University of Toronto and holds a B.A., B.Ed., and an ARCT in Flute Performance. She is passionate about her work as a professional flutist, choral director, and music educator.  In 2019, Catherine retired as a music teacher with the Halton District School Board after 35 years, where she earned the Inspire Award for teaching. One of her most memorable experiences was being invited to conduct a 600-voice choir of students in Grade 4 to 12 for the Halton Music Showcase Finale at First Ontario Concert Hall in Hamilton with piano accompanist, Nadia Mattar who collaborated with Nathalie on harp. Nathalie was invited as a special guest for this significant occasion.  

In 2012, Catherine founded Enchorus Children's Choir. She is the conductor/treasurer/artistic director/media liaison and chef for the choir!!!  It is truly a labor of love.  The choir is comprised of a cheerful, talented group of children from Burlington in Grade 2 to 12. They love to eat almost as much as they love to sing! Enchorus has performed with the Burlington Concert Band,  Halton Regional Police Chorus, Burlington Welsh Ladies Chorus and many other groups. They participate in a multitude of community events including the Aldershot Tree Lighting, Burlington Holiday Market and most recently at the Candlelit Stroll in downtown Burlington. www.enchorus.ca

Catherine is a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association for Hamilton-Halton, is a member of the Ontario Music Educators’ Association and is the artistic director of the Don Banks Music Awards competition in Toronto. www.donbanksawards.org   Catherine also teaches private flute lessons and is the founder and artistic director of ChoralFest Burlington. 

In 2022, Catherine started Catherine Richardson Collaborative Arts to bring all of her loves together. www.catherinerichardson.net 

Catherine is an active community volunteer with many charity organizations, and continues to enjoy her involvement in church activities. Along with her husband, she spends treasured time with their three grown sons and their families, especially her granddaughter, Brynleigh.