Rachael Kilgour and Sara Pajunen Play Ten Pound Fiddle
Rachael Kilgour and Sara Pajunen didn’t really choose the musical paths they set out upon. Their paths chose them. Ever since, they’ve been setting the musical landscape on fire with their blend of minimalist-folk and World music.
Both are experienced solo artists with a bevy of music and different music projects under their belts.
Together, the two will perform Friday March 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the MSU Community Music School, as a part of the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert Series. The concert is part of the duo’s “Sound an Echo” project.
“I began playing piano at the age of five or six, but switched to the violin at age seven when my mom saw an advertisement in the paper for a violin teacher.” Pajunen said. “I was having a lot of trouble sitting still at the piano! That teacher really shaped my life in huge ways. I became part of her performance group called the ‘Singing Strings,’ and we traveled all over the world sharing our music. We were the official music for the Finnish Olympic team at Atlanta in 1996, and we performed at the White House in 1994, and then-Soviet Russia in 1988. Because the teacher was from Finland, and I have Finnish roots, the future of my music always had some connection to that. I studied classical violin until my mid-20s, and now I am a graduate student at the Contemporary Improvisation department at New England Conservatory in Boston.”
As with Pajunen, Kilgour’s love of the violin began at a young age, but she never envisioned a full-career playing the same instrument.
“I studied (the violin) from the age of nine through college, and I really expected to continue on to a career involving that instrument. Instead, I discovered singing and songwriting at the age of twenty, and things took a slightly different turn.”
“There was something other-worldly about getting lost in my own voice and learning to reveal my internal world to the public,” she said. “My relationship to the violin took a giant step back at that moment, and it wasn't until meeting Sara that I began including it in my performances again.”
Kilgour went through some turbulent times, which included a divorce, and the loss of some people close to her. Her 2017 album, “Rabbit in the Road,” is a postcard to those troubling times, and proof that music can help you positively deal with raw emotions.
“That was a very painful period of my life, and I think I really depended on songwriting as a way to hold onto my sanity.” Kilgour said. “My post-divorce emotions were not simple, clean or pretty, but I found that expressing them, weaving them into stories and melodies and sharing them with listeners, brought me some relief. A lot of the work on Rabbit in the Road takes a look at grief and the impossible task of honest forgiveness. In singing those songs across the country, I've found those topics to be overwhelmingly relatable. That is what has helped me heal more than anything.”
Despite the numerous duo and solo projects the two are involved in, Sound an Echo is the current focus, according to Kilgour.
“Sara and I are actually a couple, but musically we are a relatively new duo,” she said. “We have each had long solo careers and projects with other musicians, but Sound an Echo is just really settling into itself. Something I admire about Sara is that she can very easily get lost inside of sound. I think we do that together quite well when we perform. I find that what we do as Sound an Echo is more about history and culture and beauty. It is maybe pushing forward toward compassion and community in a different way.”
“There is a spaciousness, a collaboration that happens between us, a working out of differences (or an honoring of differences) to find not only a ‘middle ground,’ she said. “But, to create something we couldn’t have created separately.”
Tickets are $18 for the general public, $15 for Ten Pound Fiddle Members; and $5 for Students. They are available online or at the box office starting at 6:30 PM.
MSU’s Community Music School is located at 4930 Hagadorn Road