When a world-famous string quartet suddenly can’t do your gig, do you panic? Not if you’re Svend Rønning, director of Second City Chamber Series. The series’ second Masterworks program at Annie Wright Hall this Friday was to have featured the Corigliano Quartet, renowned both for excellent playing and championing new American music. But when the quartet cancelled their Tacoma trip due to an emergency, Rønning simply called on friends to help: Trio Pardalote, who often play on Vashon Island (hence the new concert title: “Island Rescue.”)
In a way, though, the SCCS audience is still getting what the Corigliano stands for: innovative programming and new music. Because Trio Pardalote – comprised of violinist Victoria Parker, violist Heather Bentley and cellist Rowena Hammill – are also known for taking chamber music out of the box.
“Classical musicians get addicted to playing this music of great composers, exploring what was in their minds,” explains Bentley, who’s also known to Tacoma audiences from leading the violas in the Northwest Sinfonietta. “It’s so outrageously satisfying. That’s why you see people still going into music despite the dire economic outlook. But as listeners, you maybe don’t get that experience because of uncomfortable seats, weird lighting, a separation from the performers or something like that.”
Bentley notice, though, that whenever they held a chamber music party for their musician friends, the non-musicians listening were “overwhelmed by the intimate, communicative and transformative experience.” Wanting to recreate that in a public setting, the trio began their Club Shostakovich series, playing music by 20th-century composers in the Royal Room nightclub in Seattle, where the audience can drink, eat, socialize and sit in comfy chairs – a chamber music trend that’s gotten popular over the last decade around the country.
“There’s always a little buzz in the air,” Bentley says.
The trio also likes to add poetry to the event, to give context to the music.
“We need an appropriate habitat for music to exist in, so humans can really receive it,” explains Bentley. “It’s been great, and we’ve enjoyed a real sense of community.”
The trio will bring a little of that intimacy and community to the Second City concert this Friday. As well as enjoying the hall’s natural warmth and coziness, plus the staunch SCCS audience community, the trio will expand on a traditional early Beethoven trio (op. 3 in E-flat major) with a Fantasia written for them by Frank Campo and a piece by little-known 20th-century French composer Jean Cras.
“The Campo is a terrific piece,” says Bentley. “It’s more Hindemith than Schoenberg; a beautiful, rhapsodic piece.”
Jean Cras, meanwhile, was a rear admiral and WWII hero in the French navy. His String Trio of 1925 was inspired by the music of Northern African and the Caribbean where his ship sailed.
“It’s like world music way before world music came to be. Every audience loves it,” says Bentley.
Trio Pardalote will play for Second City Chamber Series at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28. $27 general/$25 seniors/$10 student/free for 18 and under. Annie Wright Great Hall, 827 Tacoma Ave. N, Tacoma. 253-572-TUNE, scchamberseries.org