Tatiana Ilyna

Tatiana Ilyna

Stettler Hotel concert wows audience

The Beat at the Stettler Hotel was crowded than usual on Sunday, Nov. 28, as people from all over Alberta descended on the building to...

The Beat at the Stettler Hotel was crowded than usual on Sunday, Nov. 28, as people from all over Alberta descended on the building to enjoy a classical Christmas concert and unique Asian-fusion fare.

The second annual Christmas Concert at the Stettler Hotel featured four classically-trained musicians – Olga Kotova on the violin, Dmitry Nesterov on the piano, Olena Kilchyk on the cello and mezzo-soprano Tatiana Ilyna.

Though the concert was a Christmas concert, there were few Christmas melodies in the mix, as the quartet sang a variety ranging from work by Franz Lisźt, Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Tomaso Albinoni and John Williams, to name a few.

The four musicians knew hotel owner Kimberly Ko from when she owned a music conservatory in Calgary. The four said they were sad when Ko sold and moved away from the city, so the Christmas concert is something they look forward to – a chance to share their music, and spend time with their friend.

“It’s not too formal,” Nesterov said, adding that the casual, relaxed atmosphere makes it easy for people to attend. When music becomes formal, it can scare away people who may not otherwise have the chance to experience classical music.

The quartet and Ko worked together to pick the selection of music, with each contributing ideas to the evening before the melodies were arranged by Nesterov.

“We are very lucky to have him,” Ilyna said. While Nesterov brushed off the praise from his fellow musicians, his training and ability to arrange – to modify and adapt music to suit the number of musicians and the instruments on which they perform – is a vital talent in today’s world, where orchestras are rare and smaller groups, like the quartet, are more common.

Ilyna said her favourite song of the night was Adaggio, by Tomaso Albinoni.

“It’s an instrumental piece written in the 17th century,” she explained. Originally written as chamber music, the piece has had words added in the last hundred years, after it became rather famous in the early 20th century.

The four praised the Stettler crowd, calling them “warm and inviting.”

“They are very respectful,” Nesterov said. When the musicians performed, people turned to watch and listen. The applause after each piece was very “genuine and heartfelt,” he said.

Guests were served appetizers – dumplings, spring rolls, tenderloin nuggets and crispy shrimp – in the first half of the performance, before the quartet broke to allow supper to be served.

Supper consisted of Korean-style beef tenderloin, spicy Korean pork loin, creamy Thai chicken curry, and several other dishes, including Ko’s special salad. For dessert, people were treated to black forest cake.

Like the first performance last November, this year’s event was all but sold out, despite the fact that it was held during the CFL’s Grey Cup game.

The event drew a wide range of Stettler residents, as well as those from outside the community, some travelling as far as Edmonton and Calgary.