Time for Three at the Kennedy Center
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 11:40AM
Stephen Brookes

 By Stephen Brookes • The Washington Post • October 7, 2008


ccording to conventional wisdom, classical musicians just cannot get funky. Ask the average string ensemble to improvise on a blues riff, and the results are likely to be comically stilted -- an embarrassment to everyone concerned.

But as the genre-busting trio Time for Three proved Sunday night at the Kennedy Center, it doesn't have to be that way. Trained to within an inch of their lives at the Curtis Institute of Music, the trio -- Zachary DePue and Nicolas Kendall on violins, with Ranaan Meyer on double bass -- have turned their sights on everything from jazz to Gypsy melodies, and the results are spectacular. Combining the polished virtuosity of the classical world with the raw energy of a bluegrass fiddle festival, they brought the house down with the blistering pyrotechnics of "Wyoming 307" and "Forget About It" (two jazzy pieces by bassist Meyer) and the haunting, hymnlike "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. And there was nothing stilted about any of it; this was high-octane playing from first note to last.

The concert was, in fact, a celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Kennedy Center's laudable Conservatory Project, and 14 players from music schools across the country followed the trio onstage for Aaron Copland's classic "Appalachian Spring." The gifted 21-year-old conductor Teddy Abrams led the group in a luminous, detailed performance; it was clear he knew exactly what he was going for, and he turned in a precise and always engaging reading. But the most fun came when Time for Three joined the conservatory players, closing the evening with a performance of Meyer's freewheeling "American Suite" that brought the audience to its feet.


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