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Eroica Trio to explore musical periods in Barrister Winery concerts

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 9, 2021

Eroica Trio performs at Barrister Winery on Monday and Tuesday.  (Courtesy)
Eroica Trio performs at Barrister Winery on Monday and Tuesday. (Courtesy)

One of the first stops on their post-shutdown tour, the internationally acclaimed Eroica Trio – named for Beethoven’s popular Third Symphony – will explore a wide variety of musical periods during two distinctly programmed Northwest BachFest concerts at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Barrister Winery.

“It’s like coming home,” violinist Sara Parkins said. While not a founding member, Parkins’ personal and musical ties with cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio and pianist Erika Nickrenz – childhood friends through their musical parents – go back to their earliest years. “We’ve known each other since we were kids,” Parkins said, explaining all the various iterations of their musical relationship.

Fast friends, Parkins and Sant’Ambrogio met at Meadowmount, a renowned summer music camp. Then a few years later, after meeting and playing with Nickrenz at Juilliard Pre-College, Parkins would reconnect with Sant’Ambrogio at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. After two years at Curtis, Sant’Ambrogio was invited to study at Julliard with Nickrenz.

And a few years later, in 1991, Sant’Ambrogio and Parkins ran into each other at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts. The trio was founded the same year, consisting of Nickrenz, Sant’Ambrogio and violinist Adela Peña. Later, when Peña left the group, Sant’Ambrogio and Nickrenz knew who to call.

The past year has represented the longest break in any of their careers. “The last year was tough,” Parkins said. “So this is a big deal for us to start back up … playing live music again and experiencing the audiences.” Parkins is especially excited about the two programs planned for the Barrister Winery concerts.

The concerts will include works from J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, Jean-Luc Godard and Adolphus Hailstork. “We’re doing the greats,” Parkins said, referencing Franz Schubert’s B Major Trio and Brahms’ B Major Trio. “Those are the foundation, the core of the trio repertoire.”

Also included in the lineup is Bach’s Chaconne for Solo Violin, arranged for the trio by Anne Dudley. The arrangement has become a signature piece for the group. “We always love playing that … there’s a real journey through life in that piece,” she said, explaining how she has loved playing it both as a violin soloist and as a member of the trio.

“It encompasses ecstasy and love and sorrow,” she said. “I’m of the school where I like any piece I happen to be playing at that moment … but I’m always excited to play that piece.” And after a year away, that excitement is reaching new heights. “Coming back to each other to rehearse and to perform … it’s almost like time stood still and we never left each other,” she said.

“But at the same time, there are always new discoveries, new ways to discuss turning a phrase in the music that we didn’t notice before. Every time we perform, there’s something new. And that’s what keeps us going.”

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