Kalissa Hernandez Landa

Perhaps one of the most common questions a people ask Kalissa when she plays her instrument is, “is that a fiddle or the violin?” What’s the difference?” All jokes aside that usually follow this question, Kalissa’s answer will eventually tell folks she is a fiddler through and through. That is not to say that she doesn’t play classical music, or Jazz, or spent years of her life taking violin lessons. What it does say, is that she has dedicated her life to playing, honouring and preserving the fiddle tradition. That tradition includes several styles such as Irish, Old Time Canadian, Cape Breton, French Canadian, Texas Swing, Celtic, Metis, Bluegrass, Country, Son Huasteco and Son Jarocho.

Kalissa has had a lot of musical accomplishments for her tender age. This is no surprise as she began playing violin at the age of 3. By age 12, she made musical history when she was the youngest person ever to win the title of ‘BC Provincial Fiddle Champion’. She is a four time Top Ten finalist at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Competition, and her recent work has been nominated for an Independent Music Award and a Western Canada Music Award

She began taking lessons with Yasuko Eastman and Sydney Humphreys. Her Fiddling mentors have included Oliver Schroer, Jerry Holland, Calvin Vollrath, Gordon Stobbe, Daniel Lapp, and John Arcand. Kalissa has also had may opportunities to participate and perform in masterclasses led by renown artists such as, Mark O’Connor, Natalie MacMaster, Buddy MacMaster, Alasdair Fraser, Ian Fraser, Brian Hebert, April Verch, and Catriona MacDonald. In addition she has also been a guest teacher at several fiddle camps across Canada, as well as the BC Fiddle Orchestra (House of Music) and has taught at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Victoria.

Kalissa has two CD’s to her name: Sisters and Later Than Last. In February 2009 she did an extensive tour of England and Ireland in support of these recordings and in May of 2009, Kalissa joined forces with The Paperboys, the Juno Award winning ensemble from Vancouver, BC. She has since toured with them in Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, England, Canada and The US. Her fiddling and step-dancing has been a great addition to the Folk Fest favourites, and a recent review of a show in Mannheim Germany, called Kalissa the highlight of the show.

As her last name suggests, Ms Hernandez is part Latina. Born in Canada to a Chilean father and a Canadian mother, Kalissa grew up in a multi-cultural home where traditional South American music and Cape Breton fiddle music blared from the speakers of the home stereo. In 2011 Kalissa dug deeper into her Latin Roots and helped launch the band Locarno. Their music has been described as “a groove-heavy mix of Mexican Folk, Cuban Son, and Latin Soul”. Locarno’s debut CD Una Mas Y Ya Nos Vamos, which prominently features Kalissa, has been nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award and Indie Award. Summer of 2012 will see her playing at several Jazz and Folk Festivals throughout North America, including the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Fest, Victoria Jazz Fest, Calgary Folk Fest, and Toronto Jazz Fest.

Kalissa has spent her entire life surrounded by music and playing the fiddle since before she could form full sentences. It’s a journey that has taken her all over the world and afforded her some amazing opportunities and some wild and crazy experiences. She loves that lifestyle and the balance between teaching and performing. Her current focus is on writing music for a new CD, touring and teaching, mastering the art of Italian cooking and coming up with more witty comebacks to the question, “is that a fiddle or a violin?’