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Kai Gleusteen and Catherine Ordronneau to perform Feb. 4 in Whistler

The husband and wife duo specialize in violin and piano, respectively

The Whistler Chamber Music Society’s Concert Series returns in 2024 with Kai Gleusteen and Catherine Ordronneau, an accomplished violin and piano duo from Barcelona. 

Gleusteen serves as concertmaster for the symphony orchestra at the Gran Teatre del Liceu and runs his own chamber music operation, Kaimerata Concerts, whenever he’s not touring with his violin. Ordronneau, a gifted pianist, has received the highest possible distinction from France’s Conservatory de Rouen. 

Both enjoy performing in British Columbia, and look forward to their first time in Whistler. 

“We used to be avid skiers, we love the mountains and sharing our music anywhere in any community is a pleasure,” Gleusteen says. “Whistler is an exciting new place and we’re very anxious to be there.” 

The duo first met in 1997. Both had earned top prize in a Parisian music contest and were playing at an exhibition for former winners. Gleusteen wasn’t able to hear Ordronneau’s performance, but she complimented him on his, thereby piquing his interest. Though the exhibition owner initially wanted Gleusteen to collaborate with other pianists, he had his first recital with Ordronneau near the turn of the century, and their relationship developed from there. 

An unspoken understanding of music  

Unlike his wife, Gleusteen wasn’t constantly running to his instrument as a kid. There was a fair amount of bartering and negotiation in the household as his mom, Elsi, pushed him to practice violin more. Yet despite all the top-flight teachers, masterclasses and recitals, Elsi paradoxically did not want her son to take up a career in music, so Gleusteen studied physics and math in university. 

Those subjects eventually bored him. Violin did not. 

In that regard, Gleusteen shares something in common with Ordronneau, who made it through two years of law school before focusing fully on music. Their shared chemistry has proven a blessing to them both in the professional realm. 

“There’s a lot of partners who have their respective careers, but they don’t get along musically, and the fact that we do is such a luxury because it means that we can travel together and perform together,” says Gleusteen. “Otherwise, you know, it can be quite a lonely life as a musician.

“Catherine and I share similar goals, objectives and especially our concept of what music-making is. When we rehearse together, we don’t say very much, and the moment we have people added in, we find that we have to talk much more to explain things. A lot of it is just understood when we rehearse together, because we’re thinking of music in the same way.” 

Gleusteen and Ordronneau work as hard as anyone to put on a quality show whenever they’re on tour, but they’re not concerned about defining their own musical style. 

“When you perform, you prepare a lot. You have a certain concept and an objective, but then what comes out is in the eye of the beholder,” Gleusteen comments. “I wouldn’t know how to actually define the product we make. We just love the music and try to respect the text of the composer as much as possible. What comes out to the audience? I can’t tell you.” 

As lifelong lovers of classical music, the duo focuses on showcasing a different composer each year. Through Kaimerata Concerts, they’ve already spotlighted Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Schumann and more, and they’ll no doubt bring a diverse offering to Whistler. One of the pair’s current favourites is Richard Strauss (not to be confused with fellow composer Johann Strauss), who is known for his operas and tone poems during the late Romantic and early modern eras. 

Gleusteen and Ordronneau take the stage Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. in the Maury Young Arts Centre. Find out more about their show here.