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Zodiac Trio music ensemble visits Homer

Irina Mednik
Zodiac Trio posed for a press photo. The Zodiac Trio is (pictured from left to right) pianist Riko Higuma, clarinetist Kliment Krylovskiy, and violinist Vanessa Mollard.

As Covid-19 case numbers dip, many musicians are resuming their pre-pandemic tour schedules. The internationally acclaimed Zodiac Trio is no exception. Homer is their first stop on a short Alaskan tour that was scheduled before the pandemic.

One of the most beloved compositions in the group’s repertoire is “Fraylach” by Paul Schoenfield. The word ‘fraylach’ (also spelled,‘freilach)’ is Yiddish, it means “happy.” This is the Zodiac Trio’s first time in Alaska and after a 2 year hiatus from touring, they are happy to finally visit the 49th State. They are a 3-piece ensemble that consists of Kliment Krylovskiy on clarinet, Vanessa Mollard on violin and Riko Higuma on piano. While they are a classical music ensemble, clarinetist Clement Krylovskiy emphasized that classification doesn't exactly describe their style.

“More and more nowadays, these kinds of labels do not make too much sense,” he said. “Because sometimes we do jazz. We also do a lot of contemporary music. We do experiments with music and dances, electronic music and with [visual art] installations. So if you had to put a label, it would be classical music. But nowadays, it's much broader than that.”

The group has been working on a project paying homage to American Jazz clarinetist and bandleader, Benny Goodman. Krylovskiy said he’s always felt a connection to Goodman.

“Look, I'm a clarinetist, right? So I grew up listening to Goodman. He was like a beacon for me, an inspiration. He was an immigrant Jewish kid from Brooklyn. You know, I was a Russian kid from Brooklyn.”

In fact, one of the most important pieces in the group's repertoire has a Benny Goodman link. It was a commission created for Goodman by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók . The piece is called “Contrasts”, and much like the Zodiac Trio's style, it mixes classical elements with other components.

“And so we've been playing this piece, for the past 15 years, kind of built our career around it,” said Krylovskiy.

Krylovskiy said there was another song that he enjoys performing. It’s called “Waiting for a Sunrise”. The piece was performed by Benny Goodman’s band and popularized by in the 1950s guitarists Les Paul and Mary Ford. He believes that it speaks to humanity's current situation.

“It's a very fun, very lively tune,” said he said Krylovskiy. And just something about that title and today's kind of tumultuous time, the world is waiting for a sunrise. And that kind of speaks to me, personally.”

The Zodiac trio has two performances planned. The first was in Homer on April 21and was presented by Homer Council on the Arts. The group will have an additional performance on Saturday, April 23, beginning at 7PM at the Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna. Tickets for the Soldotna show are $20 for general admission and $10 for students. That show is presented by Performing Arts Society of Soldotna.

In addition the group has two outreach events planned for students of Paul Banks Elementary School and Fireweed Academy.

Originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, Desiree has called Alaska ‘home’ for almost two decades. Her involvement in radio began over 10 years, first as a volunteer DJ at KBBI, later as a host and producer, and now in her current role as a reporter. Her passions include stories relating to agriculture, food systems and rural issues. In her spare time, she can often be found riding her bicycle, creating art from handmade paper, or working in the garden.