Impasto Duo to perform at St. Luke’s Anglican Church
By Joseph Ho
Expect this weekend’s performance by Calgary-based chamber ensemble Impasto Duo at St. Luke’s Anglican Church to be accessible and kid-friendly.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s going to be a lot of familiar music,” said pianist Elisabeth Desruisseaux.
Desruisseaux said their show on Sunday is the first they’ve played that’s aimed at children. It will feature music from The Snowman and The Nutcracker. Also, they will hold a reading of Hansel and Gretel.
Flutist Jiajia Li makes up the other half of Impasto Duo.
Their name is inspired by the Impasto painting technique, which involves applying thick paint onto canvas. It’s been used by artists like Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh.
“Interesting textures and different colours are the inspiration for our duo and the music we choose and how we curate our concerts,” Desruisseaux says.
“We try to use as much variety and colour in the music that we choose. So we often program a lot of different composers from different eras. Interesting living composers as well as more classical composers.”
Impasto Duo started when Li and Desruisseaux met as teaching colleagues at Harmony Music School in Calgary. They initially played music for fun and officially formed their act last year. Since then, they’ve played shows across southern Alberta.
Desruisseaux said their performances come with lessons on music history and background on what audiences are listening to, done to help them understand and appreciate it.
For example, she names a French composer named Olivier Messiaen who’s produced pieces that are “atonal,” or not written in any key or mode.
“But it’s largely based on bird songs. We would give some demonstrations of the bird song it’s imitating and inform people a little bit about the compositional techniques employed. Then they have an entrance into the piece and can get to grips with it a little bit,” she said.
Both women bring extensive musical experience. Li is an instructor at Mount Royal University’s Conservatory and has played with the Russian Chamber Philharmonic St. Petersburg, Pforzheim Theatre in Germany and China National Opera, according to her faculty profile. Desruisseaux directs the piano program at Harmony Music School and holds a masters degree in piano performance from London, England.
Continued performance helps them as educators, Desruisseaux said, by keeping their skills sharp. But it also reminds them what it’s like to be on stage.
“It’s something you do have to teach as well. Being on stage is not something that’s natural to people, usually, and dealing with things like performance anxiety, stage fright and stage management. I can bring all of that into the lesson as well,” she said.
Impasto Duo plays at St. Luke’s Anglican Church on Dec. 11th at 7:30 p.m.
The show runs about one hour. Refreshments to be served.
Tickets cost $20 for adults, and the program is free for children. Family rate: $35. Tickets are also available at the door.