Leah Rankin | Staff Writer
Last week, two Russian-born violinists celebrated the day they first met. Ilya Kaler, an acclaimed soloist, was performing with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in 1994 where Olga, his wife-to-be, was playing in the violin section.
The couple has returned to Chautauqua every year so that Olga can play in the symphony and Ilya can teach master classes and give recitals at the School of Music.
“Chautauqua holds special importance to us as a place,” Ilya said, “as a sort of heaven.”
Ilya and Olga will perform a recital together at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, but what makes this year special is that this recital will be a family affair.
Ilya and Olga will be joined by their son Daniel, a cellist, on a diverse program featuring the music of George Frideric Handel to Pablo de Sarasate.
“The opportunity to play together is very rare,” Ilya said.
Now that the family is together in one place, the Kalers could think of nothing better than to share the stage together. Juggling two different music careers, Ilya’s and Olga’s schedules are unpredictable.
Ilya, one of the most sought-after violin teachers in the classical music field, has traveled from Rochester, N.Y., to San Francisco coaching and teaching, while his wife travels from Boston to Chicago performing in orchestras.
“(Chautauqua) is like a constant in everyone’s life,” Olga said.
The Kalers’ passion for music influenced their son to pick up the cello and now, at the age of 12, Danny has performed and competed enough so that his reputation could stand up to any professional musician’s resume.
For example, in 2009, Daniel won first prizes in the Society of American Musicians competition and the DePaul Concerto Competition. He has performed recitals at the Music Institute of Chicago and the Allegro Music Academy in Sarasota, Fla.
Daniel also was featured as the youngest solo act on “America’s Got Talent” in 2006.
Both Ilya and Olga believe musicians should study music as much as they can and not rely on performance as their only means to make a living. Even if a musician is accepted into a prestigious orchestra, Olga said, the orchestra could fold, and the musician would need a Plan B.
“Even those who want a solo career need as much general musical education as possible,” Olga said.
The two violinists hold doctoral degrees in music and said they are grateful for the opportunities they have to play and teach around the country. At today’s recital, though, they are looking forward to celebrating their musical family in a place that is both symbolic and full of memories.
Donations for today’s concert benefit the Chautauqua Women’s Scholarship Fund.