The Zodiac Trio music ensemble pays a visit to Homer

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As the number of Covid-19 cases declines, many musicians are resuming their pre-pandemic touring schedules. The internationally renowned Zodiac Trio is no exception. Homer is their first leg of a short Alaskan tour that was planned before the pandemic.

One of the most popular compositions in the band’s repertoire is “Fraylach” by Paul Schoenfield. The word “fraylach” (also spelled “freilach”) is Yiddish, meaning “happy”. It’s the Zodiac Triofor the first time in Alaska and after a 2 year hiatus from touring, they are happy to finally visit the 49th state. It is an ensemble of 3 musicians composed of Kliment Krylovskiy on clarinet, Vanessa Mollard on violin and Riko Higuma on piano. Although it is a classical music ensemble, clarinetist Clement Krylovskiy pointed out that the classification does not accurately describe their style.

“Nowadays, more and more, those kinds of labels don’t make too much sense,” he said. “Because sometimes we do jazz. We also do a lot of contemporary music. We experiment with music and dances, electronic music and with [visual art] facilities. So if you had to put a label, it would be classical music. But these days it’s much broader than that.

The band is working on a project paying homage to American jazz clarinetist and bandleader, Benny Goodman. Krylovskiy said he always felt a connection to Goodman.

“Listen, I’m a clarinetist, aren’t I? So I grew up listening to Goodman. He was like a beacon to me, an inspiration. He was a Jewish immigrant child from Brooklyn. You know, I was a Russian kid from Brooklyn.

In fact, one of the most important songs in the band’s repertoire has a connection with Benny Goodman. It was a commission created for Goodman by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. The piece is called “Contrasts,” and just like the style of the Zodiac Trio, it mixes classic elements with other components.

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

Krylovskiy said there is another song he likes to perform. It’s called “Waiting for the Sunrise”. The piece was performed by Benny Goodman’s band and popularized by 1950s guitarists Les Paul and Mary Ford. He thinks it speaks to the current situation of humanity.

“It’s a very fun and lively song,” Krylovskiy said. And just something about this title and the kind of stormy weather today, the world is waiting for a sunrise. And that kind of speaks to me, personally.

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

Additionally, the group has planned two outreach events for students at Paul Banks Elementary School and Fireweed Academy.

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