European melodies performed at the hands of two world-travelled classical musicians will fill Turner Valley’s community hall in the first Beneath the Arch concert of the year this weekend.
Calgary husband and wife duo cellist Kirill Kalmykov and pianist Julia Haager, who together call themselves Duo Polaris, are planning an array of classical tunes from France, Spain, Russia and Germany in Turner Valley’s Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall Jan. 15 at 3 p.m.
This will be Kalmykov’s third performance for the Beneath the Arch Concert Series. He performed with a flutist and harpist as a trio last year and as part of a string quartet several years ago. This is Haager’s first performance for the concert series.
“The programs we put on are usually a display of recent travels of some of our favourite countries,” said Haager. “We wanted to represent as many countries as we can just to give people a nice variety. When you do it just from one country, you have to be quite specific in the sense that you have to know your audience really well and know that that’s going to really resonate with everyone.”
Both musicians have a European background. Haager spent a portion of her childhood in Germany and Kalmykov grew up in Russia.
“Our job is just to bring to life what’s on paper,” said Haager. “It helps if you’ve been to the country and then you understand the background behind their music.”
In 2005 the two formed Duo Polaris and have been entertaining people around the world, providing an exquisite blend of grand piano and smooth cello. Both work at the Mount Royal University Conservatory.
“It’s very soothing, romantic music that some of the audience members will probably recognize,” said Haager. “We tried to create a nice variety for everyone. It’s a very international program.”
Haager describes this weekend’s performance as a beautiful afternoon of music.
“This is a combination of some of our favourite pieces,” she said. “The music is very melodic, it’s very beautiful, traditional, but in a positive sense. It’s the type of music that everyone can connect with.”
One of the highlights of Sunday’s performance will be an arrangement of vocal pieces originating from Spanish folk songs and poetry.
“It’s beautiful melodies, but very serious poetry,” said Kalmykov. “We are playing quite a substantial Spanish piece that heavily relies on Spanish poetry and it’s actually quite amazing.”
Knowing some audience members won’t be familiar with many of the classical pieces Duo Polaris will perform, Kalmykov said they will spend time with the audience talking about the music.
“We like to present our audience with a quick rundown of the performance,” he said. “Rather than printing a program and having people shuffle through the program while we are playing, we like for them to pay more attention to the music.”
Kalmykov said the audience talks can result in some in-depth conversations about the music they’re performing.
“If the audience is ready to get a bit more of a historical overview of the pieces we are playing, we might follow with a few historical facts,” he said. “Sometimes we talk about the mood of the piece or the country it comes from or what inspired these pieces. Sometimes there’s an interesting fact connected to the sonata.”
Their interaction doesn’t only happen while the two are on stage, said Kalmykov.
“We mingle with the audience sometimes before the performance,” he said. “During intermission we sometimes come out and talk and definitely after the show. We like to interact with the audience a lot.”
Kalmykov and Haager make a point to perform for those who might not have exposure to live classical performances.
“We really like to reach out to diverse audiences and our passion is also to reach out to audiences in smaller communities,” said Kalmykov. “I strongly believe that classical and traditional music needs to be delivered to smaller communities. There is a lot of intellectuals living in smaller communities that don’t want to go to the city. As classical musicians it’s our responsibility to take our craft, our art into smaller communities.”
Tickets to see Duo Polaris perform cost $25 for adults and $10 for children in advance, and $30 at the door if available.