By Daniel Johanson
In addition to the two curricular performances every semester in the Chicago College of Performing Arts, and performances by professors Stacy Garrop and Kyong Mee Choi, the prestigious Lincoln Trio premiered a few works from CCPA students on April 6.
The trio consists of violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe and pianist Marta Aznavoorian. The trio is local to Chicago and is passionate about reaching out to the up-and-coming artists the city has to offer.
One of the unique facets of the trio is their blending of musical styles. They perform a wide variety of works, from those more classical in nature to other contemporary, boundary-pushing pieces.
“Contemporary music has its challenges,” Ruhstrat said in an interview. “The thing with doing a Haydn, Beethoven or a Brahms is you’ve done it so many times that you can try and fool around with something new in performance, and maybe not even talking about doing it but just making it happen. … For the time being, with newer pieces, you know the exact science of fitting a puzzle together because we’re not quite comfortable enough with it that if somebody took that extra beat, that it would all fall together very naturally.”
The way the trio operates parallels the varied compositional styles of the students of CCPA. This allows a specific educational perspective for the students and the opportunity to learn firsthand what working with professional caliber performers entails.
The students even get a few opportunities to have an open dialogue with the trio.
“We had one session in which they played everyones pieces and asked for comments before they worked on them further,” student composer Jonathan Hannau said. “We had another session where we were able to discuss and polish up any other issues before the concert this Sunday. They are a dedicated group of musicians, and it’s very enjoyable working with them.”
Something composers in training also learn from these experiences is the influence of their work. It is a completely different perspective to hear their pieces as an audience member than it is to be a creative or performing force.
“I have discovered when I am not performing a piece of mine, I still get just about as anxious as when I have to perform myself,” Hannau said. “Fortunately, if nerves do build up, at least it’s not me on stage this time. Honestly, though, I am still just as much emotionally involved as the performers. It’s always such a trip to hear your work performed for the first time with an audience, and lots of thoughts run through your head as you hear it come alive. … Ultimately, it is just as much a thrill to listen, and it’s nice to know that I feel that exhilarating effect no matter what I’m doing, whether it be performing or listening.”
The Lincoln Trio performs regularly, but Sunday’s performance proved to be rare in its availability, as it is not typical for established, world-travelling musicians to have a hand in organizing a collegiate performance.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our composition students to have their work performed by professional musicians,” Garrop said. “This unique event will not only showcase the work of our students but will also help these students to grow as composers.”