Soprano Kripa Nageshwar, pianist Ruta Vaivade and clarinetist Michael Westwood always had an individual passion for chamber music. The same passion drew them together and binds them today. Their adventure as the Trio Dell’Aria took off at Toronto’s Westwood Concert Series in 2014, where they gave their first public performance. They went on exploring Baroque to contemporary music, as well as jazz, folksong and chanson.
“With Ruta, we finally found our match, Kripa and I,” Michael says. “It’s now the perfect trio.” Ruta adds: “Plus, now that we get more and more chances to perform, I think there are new opportunities for composers to premiere works for our type of trio.”
In August they released their first album, bringing their collaboration to a higher level. Memories of Places Past is a perfect example of the Trio Dell’Aria’s eclectic tastes. It features new works from two of Canada’s foremost composers, Colin Eatock and Frank Horvat, and German art songs by Louis Spohr (1784–1859), which were specifically composed for clarinet, piano and voice. Each work has its own style and its own underlying story.
Coming from different cultural backgrounds, the artists themselves – and the Trio Dell’Aria as a whole – have many stories to tell. Not just musically.
Nageshwar, whose family comes from India, adapts easily to different musical styles, as shown by her wide repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary. She has performed many operatic roles, including Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Despina (Così fan tutte), Diane (Orphée aux enfers), Patience (Patience, or Bunthorne’s Bride), Daphné (Actéon) and Arlette (Die Fledermaus – in French). “My first musical education was in Carnatic music [South Indian Classical music],” she says. “I pursued jazz when I was a child and I wanted to become a professional jazz singer at the time, until I discovered opera and art song. I fell in love and never turned back!”
Westwood also has a particular interest in contemporary music. The clarinetist has commissioned and/or performed many works by Canadian composers, including Frank Horvat and Ian McDougall. He is known for his abilities and engagements both as a soloist and as a chamber musician. “I was unable to continue concert programming on top of my other projects,” he explains. “But Toronto’s Westwood Concert Series will come back next year with an array of events.”
Winner of the second prize at the 1993 Mozart Competition for Young Musicians in Latvia, Latvian-born Vaivade is not only an established soloist. She also gained a solid reputation as an accompanist after winning first prize in this category at the 1991 Youth Festival Competition in Braunschweig, Germany. In addition to her career as a performer, it is worth noting that Vaivade runs a very successful piano studio in Oakville, Ontario.
As for the trio’s future projects, Kripa, Michael and Ruta want to recreate the spirit that was held in salons such as Schubert’s – namely, intimate, casual concerts.