Time for Three at the Kennedy Center by Emily Cao

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Time for Three took to the Terrace Theater stage at The Kennedy Center on Monday night as part of the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts series. The internationally acclaimed, self-dubbed “classically-trained garage band” led the hall in a head-bobbing and giddy adventure through bluegrass and folk-infused arrangements of Bach to Katy Perry that had audience laughing and cheering with appreciation of the one-of-a-kind musicianship.

Time for Three:  Zachary DePue, violin Nick Kendall, violin and  Ranaan Meyer, double bass. Photo by Vanessa Briceno.
Time for Three: Zachary DePue, violin
Nick Kendall, violin and
Ranaan Meyer, double bass. Photo by Vanessa Briceno.

Coming together during the members’ formative years at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, the trio comprises of Zachary de Pue and Nick Kendall on violin, and Ranaan Meyer on double bass. Not only is each member a successful professional musician and educator in his own right in the classical world, but Time for Three as an entity is an international touring performance group that composes and arranges their own inventive pieces, and promotes healthy messages through music to younger generations through music exposure, education, and empowerment.

As any instrumentalist knows, one must tune at the beginning of the performance, but in this case, Time for Three’s entrance with the tuning of open strings flittingly turns into the beginnings of “Banjo Love”, an original by Ranaan Meyer inspired by the casual freedom of the musical practice room. The theme of long, open-stringed tones coupled with banjo-like string plucking quickly takes the song into an upswing of craziness – a great starter piece to showcase the style and technical prowess of the trio. The program continues with an innovative mashup of Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” pop song and Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s breakthrough Firebird. Sections of quiet solemnity woven with fiery runs make both pieces nearly unrecognizable unless one listened extremely closely – the mark of excellent reinvention.

To highlight their impressive technical chops, the trio performs their adaptation of Monti’s “Csardas”, originally a solo violin rhapsody, and trades off the devilishly fast, rhythmic melody (even to the bassist!) while getting increasingly faster, concluding the first half of the concert with a bang. The second half of the performance featured several funk-inspired original tunes by Ranaan that beautifully showcased the many capabilities of the double bass in sound and ability; an amalgamation of Bach’s violin “Chaconne” and Australian indie band Bon Iver’s “Calgary”; an adaptation of popular folk band Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man”; and finally, one of Time for Three’s most iconic pieces, the rowdy and boisterous “Orange Blossom Special”, to a standing ovation. Time for Three returned to the stage after three rounds of appreciative audience applause to perform for their encore piece an altogether different kind of song from the rest of the evening’s repertoire: a combination of “Ashokan Farewell” and “Amazing Grace”, not beat-driven, but focused on allowing the clear tones of the violin melody to shine amidst lyrical melodicism of the lower registers.

Time for Three themselves remained at an almost impossibly high level of energy throughout the evening, the members moving and grooving to the beat of the music complete with jumping and leaping and bow-throwing. Standing close together in the center of the stage, with the two violinists on either side of the bassist, the members of the trio are completely in sync with one another and attuned to the musical nuance of each instrumental voice.

As a musical force, Time for Three leads a way with a carefree attitude towards the fusion of old and new instrumentation. They combine incomparable classical ability and rare eclectic interpretation into a wonderfully unique phenomenon. Not only an entertaining ensemble, Time for Three stands on the front lines in pushing the boundaries of what defines new American Music.

Running Time: 95 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

Time for Three performed for one-night-only on February 3, 2014 at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater– 2700 F St NW, in Washington, DC. For future performances in the Fortas Chamber Music Concert series, check their calendar of events.