The music of the Time for Three trio blends the rocks of classical music with the stars of classic rock and more.
And that means that the audience for the upcoming Live On the Plaza free concert June 15 in Columbus will hear such unlikely dead fellows as Gustav Mahler mixed with a live and kicking tune from Guns N’ Roses.
All in one piece.
Ask violinist Nick Kendall where such inspiration originates and he will laugh heartily on the other end of the phone line.
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“Drunkeness, maybe?” he said.
He joked as he spoke from his condo in Washington, D.C. But fans worldwide drink to the idea that the threesome’s creative mashups bring new meaning to works of antiquity and also to tunes in modern music. For instance, the Mahler first symphony section that the group performs is based upon the loss of a son, which reminded the group of the Guns N’ Roses hit that deals in part with childhood memories.
So they, including violinist Charles Yang and double-bassist Ranaan Meyer, joined the two works in hybrid harmony. Currently, Kendall considers linking part of Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” with Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Forget calling him crazy — especially if you realize all three band members grew up playing pop-rock alongside their classical training. Those were lessons that, for Kendall, included the Suzuki method that his grandfather brought to the United States.
“There were no barriers between genres back then,” Kendall said.
So, his reasoning: Why erect them now? Besides, he once said a few years ago that “every moment (of music) is like a new corner of the playroom.”
Time for Three simply wants audiences of today to creatively hear a bit of what audiences of yesterday heard.
“We want the whole world to know how awesome artists such as (Dmitri) Shostakovich and (Sergei) Rachmaninoff are,” he said. “And we’re always interested in finding musical bridges to and from the classical canon, and pairing that with more publicly recognizable modern songs.”
And if that means they merge a classical work with Kanye West, or rip through a breakneck-paced bluegrass tune right after a jazz number with no strong attached, so be it. Making matters more freewheeling for Live On the Plaza is the outdoor setting, according to Kendall, especially since the group is also know for improv.
When he heard they would be playing in front of a library designed by famed architect I.M. Pei, the son of an ex-Ball State University architecture professor grew more excited.
“No way!” he said.
Kendall figures he and his bandmates’ 90-minute instrumental and vocal set on the plaza will include new tunes off an album the three will record in Nashville, Tennesee, just before their arrival here. They have been working alongside writer Liz Rose, known for her work with Taylor Swift.
“She’s kind of blind to genres,” Kendall said. “But she definitely knows what she likes.”
So do their avid and growing followers. Columbus Indiana Philharmonic Music Director David Bowden saw how the trio appealed to a wide-ranging audience when the three performed with the orchestra and also a solo concert in October 2015.
“It’s truly amazing how they connect with everyone,” Bowden said. “And they are fabulous artists.”
Their gifting keeps them on the road plenty. That explains why Kendall was grateful for a bit of break recently, since he married sweetheart Marina Stiajkina, who has sung opera, only days ago. The honeymoon, it seems, will have to be as improvised as the group’s shows. Fortunately, his spouse is an arts administrator and understands.
Goodness knows Time For Three knows time for spontaneity. They have played impromptu at Amtrak train stations, on airline flights, backstage for newlyweds, on airport tarmacs — you name it.
Kendall mentioned that Columbus should prep for a high-energy show, boosted pre-concert by equal parts coffee and cardio.
“Because we’re on the road so much, we have to make sure we’re healthy and our core is strong,” he said.
And Time For Three’s core? Energetic blends of old and new, stirred to awaken listeners to a new sound.
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Who: Time For Three performing a wide range of genres, from classical to jazz to rock at the Columbus Area Arts Council’s annual Live On the Plaza concert.
When: 7 p.m. June 15
Where: Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus.
Information: 812-376-2539 or artsincolumbus.org.