Story last updated at 12/30/2009 - 12:13 pm
For a trio of virtuosos, coming up with their title was a more difficult task than learning the music on their program. Following in the tradition of many other trios, the Indigo Piano Trio decided to take their name from a geographic feature, specifically something with Alaskan importance. Indigo came to Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins' mind--it's the name of a lake near Sitka that he remembers as one of his favorite places to visit. The name resonated with the trio and stuck.
The trio consists of Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins on cello, Matthew Smith on violin and Jennifer Wang on piano. Kreiss-Tomkins hails from Sitka, Smith from Chugiak and Wang from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They will visit Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Skagway this week for their first tour of Southeast Alaska. The program is split into two halves, both of which will offer a wide range of styles within the classical genre. Pieces were chosen according to the personal tastes of each musician, including works by Piazzolla, Bach, Dvorak, Ysaye and Mark Summer.
Kreiss-Tomkins has played cello with numerous orchestras and currently performs as associate principal bassist for the Yale Symphony Orchestra. Smith currently performs as first violinist in the same orchestra, of which he was elected president. He also performs in other genres, including Irish, klezmer, jazz and bluegrass styles and is currently the only student member of Professor of Bluegrass, a bluegrass band composed of Yale faculty. Wang has made a name with herself both as a pianist and also as one of Canada's Top 20 Under 20 for her scientific accomplishments. The three musicians found each other at Yale University, each bringing their own experience to the trio.
"It's been in the back of my mind to do some concerts in Southeast Alaska for a while," Kreiss-Tomkins said. "It's just a matter of finding musicians."
Kreiss-Tomkins and Smith were previously acquainted from high school and reconnected at Yale.
"I've always wanted to play in a piano trio," Smith said. "We put a lot of work in this fall and it definitely has been a lot of fun."
Smith will perform a solo violin sonata by Ysaye that emanates the resonant and echoing qualities of Bach's sonatas and partitas.
"It sort of injects a strangely tonal aspect to the really resonant qualities of the violin that Bach was able to capture in his original solo violin pieces," Smith said.
Kreiss-Tomkins will perform a solo cello piece by Mark Summer of the Turtle Island String Quartet.
"(Summer) does a lot of interesting things with instruments and types of pizzicato I've never dreamed about doing before I saw it written on the page," Kreiss Tomkins said. "Hopefully the audience will enjoy it too."
Wang will also perform a solo piano number that she described as "stormy, passionate and emotional."
"This is the kind of thing that I'm really excited to do," Wang said. "Playing with these two has been really great. I don't think I've ever worked so hard."
By virtue of their respective standings in school, the trio will likely disperse soon as Smith and Wang are due to graduate this year. But they first hope to program a concert at Yale upon their return from the Southeast Alaska tour.
"I think this concert will be pretty unique as far as chamber music concerts go," Kreiss-Tomkins said. "Hopefully we'll offer a youthful angle on the traditional classical."
The Indigo Piano Trio will perform at 7 p.m. on Jan. 2 at the Sitka Performing Arts Center, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4 at Aldersgate Methodist Church in Juneau, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5 at the Chilkat Center in Haines and at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 at the Skagway School.
Juneau tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors and $3 for under school-age children and are available at Hearthside Books, Rainy Retreat Books, at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center and online at http://www.jahc.org/.