The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music Q/A: Part 2 of an interview with the Eroica Trio

March 9, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger


On this Thursday, March 11, at 8 p.m. the critically acclaimed Eroica Trio (below) will perform at the Wisconsin Union Theater. The MUST-HEAR program is Beethoven’s Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3; Joan Tower’s Trio “For Daniel”; and Dvorak’s famous “Dumky” Trio.

Then on Saturday, March 13, at 8 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater, the Eroica Trio will perform Beethoven’s “Triple” Concerto with the UW Chamber Orchestra.

Here is a video clip of the Eroica performing the beautiful slow movement from same Beethoven work:

Tickets for the March 11 concert are $18, $30 and $35 with $10 admission of UW students. Admission to the March 13 concert is included in those prices. Admission to ONLY the March 13 concerto concert is $10, $5 for UW students. Call 262-2201.

Below is the last of a two-part interview The Ear conducted with Sara Sant’ambrogio, the cellist with the Eroica Trio:

Could you comment briefly on each piece on your program, but especially on the trio by Joan Tower (below) as an important American composer who is also a woman? What would be the take-aways from each one for the audience or general public?

Joan Tower’s trio “For Daniel” is a very emotional piece that she wrote after her nephew died from after a long battle with an illness. It was her way to memorialize him and to make peace with his loss. We have found that audiences have responded very strongly to this piece and also find it very draining for us personally to perform. That is why we programmed it just before intermission, so that we could recover before the Dvorak Trio on the second half.

And the Beethoven Trio?

The Beethoven trio, while it is early Beethoven, really sounds like his middle period. It is very intense, as most pieces in the “dark” key of C minor are, and extremely developed. It actually is one of my favorite trios by Beethoven and his as well.

It was so successful as a trio when he published it that he went back and arranged it for viola quintet as well. I actually toured with it in that version with “Music From Marlboro” years ago. He is such a fantastic composer that it works brilliantly in both versions.

And the Dvorak?

The Dvorak “Dumky” is one of his most popular works and definitely a standard of the trio repertoire. It is a very interesting compositional form in that instead of the standard 3 or 4 movement piece, it is 5 or 6 depending on how you count them.

It is very “Czech” and alternates between very light-hearted, dance-like sections and slower deeply emotional more sad “dumka” style sections. As a performer, I find it is very exciting to be able to use all of your emotions and life experiences so quickly one after another in the same work.

Do you like to work with students? I’m referring the Beethoven Triple Concerto you will be performing with University of Wisconsin-Madison students? What do you and the others find rewarding and difficult about that? What do you learn from teaching?

We love teaching and working with students. There is almost nothing as gratifying as when you see that light spark in their faces when they connect with something you are trying to share with them, to try and pass on to the next generation the love and passion you feel when playing these masterpieces is one of the greatest perks of the job.  I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be able to make my life’s work sharing this amazing music with people all over the world.

Do you think of yourself as role models for younger females who are musicians or in other fields/professions?

Well, when we started out there were very few women at the top in classical music and no chamber music groups that had made it to the top with women in it, so we kind of did shatter that glass ceiling.

Now it is wonderful to see women in every field pursuing their individual dreams and being respected for their achievements as professional not just as women. But just yesterday a woman  won a top bowling championship for the first time ever, so I guess there still are some ceilings to break.

Is there a particular aspect of your career that you would like the public to know about?

I remember as a young girl starting out being told to “never get married and absolutely never have children” if I wanted to have a career.

Happily, both Erika and I have young boys whom we often take on tour with us, and I can not think of a better role model for them than seeing their mommies joyfully working so hard at something and achieving success and respect because of their discipline and hard work.

Here is a sample of the Eroica playing the fetching Trio Ni 1 by Turina, a piece the Eroica has not yet recorded but should:

Do you know the Eroica Trio?

What do you think of them?

What did you think of their Madison performances?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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