Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio's success like a long-lasting marriage
By Jennifer Pencek
While other classical music ensembles might burn out from the endless hours of work needed to be successful, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio sets itself apart. Now in their thirty-sixth season together as a trio, the ensemble members have achieved professional longevity for some of the same reasons that certain marriages thrive.
“It helps to have a sense of humor and not take things so personally,” says cellist Sharon Robinson. “In any kind of chamber music you have to be critical when you work. There’s such a sense of mutual respect and enough self-respect so we don’t take it all personally and go off in a huff when someone tells us we’re not in tune.”
The trio came about after pianist Joseph Kalichstein filled in for another musician in an ensemble of which violinist Jaime Laredo and Robinson were members. Laredo and Robinson, who have been married since 1977, later invited Kalichstein to join them as a trio. The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio made its debut at President Carter’s inauguration.
Despite the closeness of the trio members, time apart has actually helped the group thrive through the years, Robinson says.
“It’s partly because we don’t do the trio 100 percent of the time, and we each go off and do our own solo work, recitals, concertos — Jaime conducts — so it’s not an everyday, all-day trio,” says Robinson, speaking by phone from her home in Guilford, Vermont. “It’s been one long, wonderful roller coaster ride.”
The ride stops for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 3, in Schwab Auditorium. The program features André Previn’s Piano Trio No. 2, Ludwig van Beethoven’s youthful Piano Trio in B-flat, Johannes Brahms’ mature Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major (Revised), and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s 1987 composition Trio (also written for the ensemble). The Center for the Performing Arts co-commissioned the new Previn work. Zwilich was the first women to win the Pulitzer Prize for music composition.
Robinson says the trio is particularly excited to perform Previn’s piece, which premiered in May 2012.
“We’re still getting to know it and making it our own,” she says. “It’s not just Previn’s work now, it’s also our own, something we need to really own and present as a convincing musical entity. It’s interesting the life a new piece will go through.”
Robinson calls the Previn composition “sparkling and beautiful” and one that could even have audience members whistling as they exit the auditorium.
“When you commission a piece, you have no idea what you’re going to get,” she says. “I think [Previn] made a work that really communicates with the audiences, which is really what we care so much about —that an audience member can understand it, even the first time through. There’s something for everybody in this.”
As part of the Center for the Performing Arts Classical Music Project, now in its second of three seasons, the public is invited to observe the trio musicians conducting a master class for Penn State School of Music small-ensemble students at 4 p.m. Tuesday, October 2, in Music Building I’s Esber Recital Hall.
“We’re very pleased to have Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio with us to kick off the Classical Music Project’s second season,” says Katie O’Hara Krebs, administrative support coordinator for the Classical Music Project. “It’s wonderful that funding for the project allows Penn State students to engage and learn from artists of this caliber. We look forward to both the concert and master class during their residency and invite students and the community to come and listen to these performances.”
Robinson says master classes provide wonderful opportunities for both the trio and the student musicians participating.
“At a great school like Penn State there is a wonderful music school and great players who can appreciate the subtlety of chamber music,” she says. “Sometimes master classes can be scary for the student — and I know it was scary for me as a young student — but if people can look at it as just playing for colleagues and grow and get some differing ideas, I always enjoy it. The more experience you get in performing in front of people and putting your heart on your sleeve, the easier it becomes.”
Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Kalichstein, is offered in Schwab one hour before the concert and is free for ticket holders.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday,
University Park Student $15
18 and Younger $32
Norma and Ralph Condee Chamber Music Endowment sponsors the concert.
WPSU is the media sponsor.