by Mike Telin
Although they may bill themselves as “the world’s first classically trained garage band,” anyone who has had the good fortune to hear Time for Three, knows they are one of the finest and most innovative ensembles touring today. On Wednesday, October 8 beginning at 7:30 pm in Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall, violinist Zachary De Pue, violinist Nicolas Kendall and bassist Ranaan Meyer return to Northeast Ohio to open Tuesday Musical’s 2014-15 season.
‘We’re very excited to be back. We always love being in Northeast Ohio,” Nick Kendall said during a telephone from a coffee shop in Sun Valley, Idaho where he was taking profit of some rare downtime to do a little hiking and biking. “We’re very busy, but it’s great. We feel so lucky that we can do what we love, and make our daily bread while doing it. That’s a special thing.”
Indeed things are going well for the Curtis Institute of Music-trained ensemble. In addition to their solo and orchestral engagements, the group is entering their fifth season as artists-in-residence with the Indianapolis Symphony, where Zachary De Pue serves as concertmaster. In June of this year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut recording on the Universal Music Classics label. If you’re not familiar with Time for Three’s unique musical style, I strongly recommend this album.
Kendall said that although he wishes they could tour with all of the amazing musicians who are on the recording, there are a number of the tracks that will be featured on Wednesday’s program. “A track we think is the centerpiece of the album, especially given that the group’s roots are founded in classical music, is the Chaconne in Winter. Kendall describes the piece as a combination of Bach’s d-minor Chaconne with a weaving-in of the main theme from the song Calgary by Bon Iver. “This piece is very much in the style of Time for Three, where we mash things together. It’s a very special treat for us to play because of the substance of the music. Zach and I both grew up playing the Bach and Bon Iver is an indie band who we all love and admire. It’s a challenging piece, but rewarding to play.”
When it came to completing the album, Kendall explained, one of the trickiest things was deciding on the order of the tracks. “Zach, Ranaan and I have a wide variety of musical tastes, and this album does represent that variety. We wanted to create a track list that will take you on a journey.” The album features guest artists Rob Moose of Bon Iver, ukulele ace Jake Shimabukuro, folk-pop sister duo Lily & Madeleine, saxophonist Branford Marsalis and cellist Alisa Weilerstein.
The album also includes four tracks featuring singer Joshua Radin. “Josh wasn’t used to working in the classical music genre, but he’s just such a natural. His phrasing, for example. Our approach is more the way you would phrase Beethoven or Mahler. So it’s a little less cut and dried than if you were recording to a click track. But Josh was so willing to take songs that he was used to singing in a particular way — stretching them out and realizing them in a very different fashion. It was cool to watch him go through that process with us.
I point out to Nick Kendall that the album has a strong connection to the Midwest — Zach De Pue is from Bowling Green Ohio, Bon Iver was formed in Wisconsin, Alisa Weilerstein and Joshua Radin are from Cleveland, and Lily & Madeline are from Indianapolis. “We’re proud of that, and of course we also spend a lot of time there. As part of our residency with the Indianapolis Symphony, we do a ton of community engagements and a lot of that has been promoting local talent not only from Indiana but also throughout the Midwest. It’s been great and we’re very proud of the work we’re doing there.
While in Akron, Time for Three will present a free workshop for middle and high school students titled Follow Your Dreams and Shoot for the Stars. Time for Three has done significant work with bullying prevention and their video, Stronger, will be part of this presentation. Kendall points out that he and his Time for Three colleagues have each gone through their fair share of negative experiences while growing up. But because of family and wonderful mentors, they were all able to come out of stronger on the other end. “Although it’s a hot button topic, our message about the problem of bullying is to try to rise about it, no matter what you do,” Kendall said. “If you feel a little bit different from others, just stick to what you believe, and if you work hard you will get through it.”
Published on ClevelandClassical.com October 2, 2014.
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