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debut atlantic


Debut Atlantic Tour: Educational Outreach


As I explained in the last blog post, a major focus of this Debut Atlantic tour is education - and good thing - as some of these experiences are becoming the most memorable for me. For example, Phil and I drove from Halifax to New Ross, NS, to play for a group of about 100 students between the ages of 4 and 14, where much to our surprise, we were greeted by name in the parking lot by a group of students! Their teachers had prepared them well with the educational materials provided by Debut Atlantic. In addition, they listened to the tracks on my website where Phil and I play together - and they even listened to some music by my Ukrainian band Тут і Там. Phil and I performed our program which included music of Prokofiev, Janacek, Debussy, and Brahms. We spoke to them about these pieces, and took questions from the audience. We also asked for their impressions of the pieces, and were pleased at the insightfulness of their comments. We then got to sign a couple autographs, which always feels nice/strange, and took a picture together with the older kids (the "littles," as they are called, had to go eat lunch):


After that great experience, Phil and I experienced one of the touring life's greatest treasures: traveling through scenic landscapes... and enjoying food. To get to Yarmouth, our next destination, we had to drive past the exit to Lunenburg, a UNESCO world heritage site. So we stopped in for lunch! We had heard that there was a great place to eat there called the Salt Shaker Deli. We (once again) had an exorbitant amount of seafood, this time featuring muscles, chowder, and lobster mac & cheese:




We then saw some of the sites of Lunenburg (see top photo), grabbed a coffee, and continued on our way to Yarmouth. In Yarmouth (where it is generally very, very windy, we performed for two groups of school children. Again, great questions and emotional responses to our music and questions!

Yarmouth boasts a lovely Main Street and very cleverly named free wifi (pictured below):


From Yarmouth, we drove back to Halifax, where we would share in some real Haligonian hospitality and eat lobster. They were delicious!!!


Our last tour duty was to coach the students of Dalhousie Univeristy's collaborative piano class. We listened to some very talented and hard-working students perform, and did our best to help their already impressive performances develop further. We capped off the end of the class by performing a couple movements of the Prokofiev sonata we had been performing on tour. It was a lovely way to finish the week.

I'd like to thank everyone at Debut Atlantic, all of the concert presenters, the students and our audience members across the maritimes for such a wonderful experience. It was lovely to perform and to get acquainted with so many wonderful people, and I hope to visit and perform in the region again soon.



Debut Atlantic Tour: Moncton, Antigonish, Halifax

20131118-172556.jpg Greetings from the road! Phil Chiu and I are currently in Halifax, having performed recitals this past weekend in Moncton, NB and Antigonish, NS. We were treated to really wonderful, attentive crowds with whom we really enjoyed visiting after the concerts (sometimes over a glass or two). Phil and I also have enjoyed some great cuisine, especially at the Tide and Boar in Moncton!



Our scheduled Sunday house concert had to be rescheduled (sadly, even presenters get the flu!); however, Phil and I, intent on playing, found ourselves another venue - a friendly house concert in Halifax with many Symphony Nova Scotia players in attendance. It was a great time, where we got to reacquaint with old friends and meet some new ones.


Our tour features a really strong educational component. Today, we performed for 400 great kids at Elmsdale elementary school, just outside of Halifax (seen above). The students there were truly great listeners, and asked some really insightful questions afterwards. We're slightly biased towards this school now, because they gave us each a great new mug!


We also participated in a really great educational venture through Newfoundland’s Department of Education’s Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) and Memorial University, where we performed a program over a live internet stream to hundreds of students in Newfoundland and across Canada. In the remaining few days of the tour, we will perform an additional three school concerts in New Ross and Yarmouth - we hear there's great lobster there - and then come back to Dalhousie University to coach the collaborative piano class in some duo and trio chamber music.



Atlantic Tour, Nov. 15-21, 2013

Well, back at it again! Phil Chiu and I are hitting the road for a tour of the Maritime provinces, presented by Debut Atlantic. You can check out all of the concert info on their website. The concert dates and locations are listed on Here's our program and a bit about us:


Carissa Klopoushak and Philip Chiu have performed extensively together over the last five years. Their musical partnership has taken them across the country, beginning with a 17-city Canadian tour for the Eckhardt-Grammatté competition in 2009. Since that time, they have performed together at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, for the Regina Musical Club, and in many recitals and chamber music collaborations in and around Montreal. Their chemistry on stage together is easily felt by audience members; they look forward to presenting this program in Atlantic Canada.

LEOŠ JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Violin Sonata (1914)

1. Con moto 2. Ballada: Con moto 3. Allegretto 4. Adagio

"...In the 1914 Sonata for violin and piano I could just about hear the sound of the steel clashing in my troubled head..." Janáček began work on his Violin Sonata with the clash of WWI all around. Despite calling this work a sonata, he avoided traditional forms, writing in the manner of a stream of consciousness.

The violin opens the piece adamantly and alone, followed by a theme accompanied by dramatic tremolando in the piano. The Ballada features an enchanting melody and a true dialogue between violin and piano. The third movement alternates between anger and regret. The finale pits the violin and the piano against one another in a series of interruptions and abrupt changes of mood – but the two resolve, or dissolve, together into nothingness.

OSKAR MORAWETZ (1917-2007) Duo for Violin and Piano (1947, rev. 1956)

This work by the beloved Canadian composer Oskar Morawetz is in rondo form. The recurring opening theme is both mysterious and playful; the contrastic sections of the work incorporate elements of lyricism and drama.

SERGEI PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Sonata No. 1 in F minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 80 (1946)

1. Andante assai 2. Allegro brusco 3. Andante 4. Allegrissimo - Andante assai, come prima

Prokofiev began work on his first Violin Sonata in 1938, but completed the work in 1946. It is one of the darkest and most profound works in the repertoire, conceived during one of the more dreadful periods of human history.

The first movement begins in an unstable manner with a meandering melody in the low range of the piano. The movement evokes a sense of turmoil and uncertainty. A chilling passage of muted scales upon bell-like piano chords ends the movement, which according to the composer, mimics the sound of wind in a graveyard.

The second movement is in a bright C major, often aggressive and fragmented. The “heroic” second theme received high praise from Soviet commentators at the time of performance.

The third movement is idyllic, featuring the Lydian scale. It is perhaps the one movement of unadulterated beauty within the work. One senses deep sentiments of love and longing.

The finale attempts joyousness, following a conventional I-IV-V-I progression in F major; however, the unstable metrical ground on which this generic progression appears thwarts its ability to be joyful or celebratory. The movement culminates in heartbreak and sorrow.

CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Sonata for Violin and Piano (1916)

1. Allegro vivo 2. Intermède, fantasque et léger 3. Finale: Très animé

In three short movements, Debussy expresses more character than one would think imaginable. The sonata opens in a meloncholic manner, and travels through various sections of excitement, nostalgia, uncertainty, and bravado. The work culminates joyfully. This sonata allows the performers to experiment with sound worlds and colours in a very freeing way.

MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937) Tzigane Rhapsodie de Concert (1922)

Ravel masterfully captures the spirit of the gypsy in Tzigane, showcasing the virtuosity of both pianist and violinist.