Time for Three makes time to welcome classical newcomers

by MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

When the string trio Time for Three comes to Hartford in May, the group will be performing in one venue that is expected.

But Time for Three also will bow up in a venue more accustomed to coffee and cocktails than classical music.

Time for Three will perform May 3 to 5 as part of the Hartford Symphony’s  Beethoven’s 5th Masterworks concerts at The Bushnell in Hartford.

But on May 1, they will hold the symphony at bay as they perform only with HSO conductor Carolyn Kwan at HSO’s Intermix at Hartford’s hip Spectra Wired Café.

Time for Three, which is Nicolas Kendall and Charles Yang on violin, and Ranaan Meyer on double bass, does perform classical music. But they also perform pop and rock songs, including some mashups, in the string format.

All three members of Time for Three are familiar with the commonalities of different music genres, said Yang. All three trained at classical music conservatories. But they also have interests in other genres that inform their playing. Kendall is into hip hop; Mayer plays jazz; and Yang plays the blues.

One of the songs in Time for Three’s repertoire is “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns ‘N’ Rose, said Yang. Some older audience members will comment after a performance that the melody was beautiful and they want to know about the composer, said Yang. Then they will be surprised when Yang tells them it was a heavy metal song originally.

“We love that they can find a melody they love and not know it’s a rock tune, or vice versa.”

Spectra’s audience will get a taste of this colorful dimension of Time for Three’s personality. It’s a way to expose a new audience to classical music by showing its commonalities – it’s through line – with other genres, said Chang.

“That’s our mission,” said Yang.

Yang said he has always had an interest in exposing people to classical music for the first time.

When he was in high school, Yang said he often would call in his friends to listen as he performed some of the classical pieces he was learning. Years later, his friends still comment on pieces they heard him play. They will remember the melodies even if they can’t remember the composers, said Yang.

Stepping away from the common classical venues such as concert halls, and performing in spaces like Spectra, which will appeal to a more hip crowd, helps Time for Three fulfill its mission to draw in new, younger, listeners for classical music and get them curious to learn more about classical music, said Yang. “It’s fun.”

Plus, said Yang, “We (the classical world) need the young energy.”

The hope is that the audience Time for Three finds at the Spectra will take the next step and attend a classical performance at a concert hall. He said it would be great if the audience for the Spectra show on May 1 finds itself attending the Bushnell presentation on May 3 to 5.

Performing with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra at The Bushnell, Time for Three will perform Jennifer Higdon’s Concert 4-3.

Yang said the piece, which was written for Time for Three, references bluegrass music and the sounds of Appalachia. But it is not bluegrass. However, this cross-pollination of genres maintains the trio’s mission of showing the through-line of all music.

The Higdon piece begins with what Yang called a “scrubby” sound on the strings, which is atypical for a piece with strings. But the scrubby string sound “sends a message we are going on a journey.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Yang.

Time for Three performs at HSO: Intermix on Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. at Spectra Wired Café, 5 Constitution Plaza, Hartford.

Time for Three than joins Hartford Symphony Orchestra for its “Beethoven 5th” concert in the Masterworks Series Friday through Sunday, May 3 to 5. The performances are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford.

For tickets, go to HartfordSymphony.org

Time for Three performs this weekend with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.