Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with The Jolles Duo
by Beatrice Liu
May 08, 2013 | 3547 views | 0 0 comments | 229 229 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Renee Jolles and Susan Jolles
Renee Jolles and Susan Jolles
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Last Sunday, in honor of Spanish influenced music and as a special celebration for Cinco de Mayo, the Day of the Dead, The Jolles Duo gave a special harp and violin performance at the Church-in-the-Gardens, located at 50 Ascan Ave. in Forest Hills.

The church has hosted music events for over a decade, with around five to six performances a year. Because of the dome-shaped interior, the acoustic was excellent for a small-sized performance, especially as the sound resonates back from the thick brick walls.

“The acoustic inside the church is great for small concerts,” said Eileen Scott, a board member of the Oratorio Society of Queens.

The duo performed a number of classical pieces, taking the audience on a journey from Europe to Latin America.

This mother-daughter duet is made up of Susan Jolles, an established harp player, and her daughter Renee Jolles, a praised violinist who is also part of the New York Chamber Ensemble.

Susan and Renee both started playing music at a very young age.

“I heard some gypsy music at a café in Switzerland when I was two and knew right away that violin was going to be part of my life,” said Renee, a graduate of the Juliard School and current faculty member in their pre-college division.

Al Volaski, an avid classical music listener and audience member at the Cinco De Mayo performance, traveled from New Jersey for the performance.

“It’s unusual to have a harp concert,” Volaski said. “I wouldn’t come out of my way if it was a piano concerto.”

Susan Jolle, harpist, enjoyed a long and extensive career as a soloist.

Aside from being a performer, she is also a chamber musician, orchestral player and teacher.

At the same time, she is a founding member of the Naumberg Award winning Jubal Trio. She has released numerous discographies that specialize in classical, jazz, Broadway and was also featured in the most recent issue of American Harp Society magazine.

As Renee’s bow started gliding gracefully along her violin strings, Susan’s fingers started dancing on her harp.

The room became instantly silent and was replaced by a wave of angelic melodies. The powerful and bodacious sound from the violin intertwined with the gentle vibration of the harp and immediately captured everyone’s attention.

The duo kicked off their performance with “Poema del Pastor Coya”, a three-piece movement on Argentinian folk music celebrating the uniqueness of Spanish-influenced music. Then, the pair performed “Fantaisie for violin and harp, Op. 124”, composed by the renowned French organist and composer, Camille Saint- Saens.

With a solo harp piece, the performance continued with a traditional Mexican number, “Estrellita”.

Filled with grace, passion and jaw-dropping talent; the performers made Cinco de Mayo a truly memorable day for their audience.

When asked if harp was a hard instrument to master, Susan replied, “It’s something you have to dedicate your whole life to.”
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