NEXT week, get ready to embark on an aural journey across nations, countries, and continents with the Hessler Street Duo. Comprising pianist Jennifer Heemstra and violinist Patrick TS Yim, the duo in their concert From Hessler to Hindustan will trace the ancient Silk Road, which connected several countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe, to create a channel that facilitated the silk trade as well as the exchange of information between cultures.
The public performance at Goethe-Institut will witness the India premiere of Elena Kats -Chernin’s Eliza Aria, as well as a music piece inspired by the Silk Road, called Miles upon Miles, composed by Yao Chen and Austin Yip. Alongside, the performance will also include Edvard Grieg’s Sonata for Piano and Violin, a short love song by Mexican composer, Manuel Ponce and The Jazz Suite No 1 by Russian composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. The recital will also be accompanied by artist Viraag Desai’s media art installations.
While Jennifer has been quite a regular with her piano recitals in the city — having formed the Kolkata Classics trust in 2014, which has hosted as many as 80 concerts in Kolkata so far — this will be violinist Patrick Yim’s first performance in Kolkata.
“This performance is a part of a concert series across India, Dubai, and Dushanbe,” says Jennifer, the organiser of the event, who currently resides in Tajikistan. While Elena Kats-Chernin is a composer and pianist from Uzbekistan, a stop along the Silk Road, Yao Chen is from China, the place where it originates, and Austin Yip is from Hong Kong, which recently organised an exhibition for the Hong Kong Museum of History called Miles Upon Miles: World Heritage along the Silk Road. The music pieces by Yao Chen and Austin Yip were commissioned as a part of the exhibition.
“I discovered Elena’s music in 2018, and we have premiered her works in Washington as well as in Dushanbe,” reveals Jennifer. Both Jennifer and Patrick were students of Cleveland Institute of Music, an institution that is not too far from the Hessler Street, which inspired the name, Hessler Street Duo.
“The street represents a time and place in our lives that has shaped each of us into the musicians we are today, and the name pays homage to our former home and school,” reveals Patrick, who also teaches music at Hong Kong Baptist University.
“It will be exciting to see how an Indian audience will receive these works, given that India also features on the ancient Silk Road,” he adds. Patrick will be performing the world premiere of Violin Concerto No 1 Generation composed by Austin Yip in the US, in the coming few months, besides teaching and performing in Germany.
He is also working on an album of solo violin pieces, commissioned by Austin Yip, Yao Chen, Michael-Thomas Foumai, and Kai-Young Chan.
The Hessler Street Duo will perform at Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata on April 30 at 6.30 pm.