Gryphon Trio and Catalyst Quartet to perform at Winter Chamber Music Festival


Courtesy of Catalyst Quartet

Paul Laraia, Karlos Rodriguez, Jessie Montgomery and Karla Donehew-Perez pose with their instruments. Catalyst Quartet will perform in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Andrea Michelson, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Inspired by universal emotions and the potential for social change, the Gryphon Trio and Catalyst Quartet are bringing fresh perspectives to classical works of music at the Bienen School of Music’s Winter Chamber Music Festival this weekend.

The 23rd Annual Winter Chamber Music Festival, featuring six performances by internationally renowned artists, spans three weekends in January. This weekend, the Gryphon Trio will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and the Catalyst Quartet will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. All performances take place in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

Gryphon Trio will perform Joseph Haydn’s “Trio No. 45,” Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Trio No. 2” and Johannes Brahms’ “Trio No. 2,” a program that pianist Jamie Parker describes as “a complete emotional journey.”

“The core emotions remain the same,” Parker said. “Something, hundreds of years ago, really pissed Beethoven off, so he wrote some pounding, loud chords in his piece. And a couple of hundred of years later, we come along, and that reminds me of that bad driver who cut me off, so I get angry when I play.”

The piano trio consists of Parker, violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon and cellist Roman Borys. The musicians met at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta, Canada when they were students there in the 1980s, Parker said. Though the trio began as friends, they eventually became a professional group and have since been performing together for over 25 years, Parker said.

Parker, Patipatanakoon and Borys play some classical pieces, like their program for the Winter Chamber Music Festival, but they also commission original chamber music. Parker said the trio has premiered approximately 80 original works. One of their original releases, “Canadian Premieres,” won a Juno Award in 2004, according the Bienen website. The trio won a second Juno in 2011 for their recording of the music of Beethoven.

Parker emphasized the timeless and universal nature of classical music. He said he hopes to create a rapport with the audience where they feel welcome to interact with the music.

“A lot of the music we play, especially the older music, can be received in a very fresh way,” Parker said. “These are not museum pieces, these are things that are fresh and vital and just as meaningful and communicative today as they were a hundred years ago.”

Catalyst Quartet has a radically different approach to revitalizing classical music. Cellist Karlos Rodriguez said the quartet hopes to shift the message of classical music in order to engage younger audiences and implement social change.

Rodriguez, along with violist Paul Laraia and violinists Karla Donehew-Perez and Jessie Montgomery, chose the name “catalyst” to reflect their mission to affect change through music. Rodriguez said the quartet achieves this goal through their programming, from recording music by historically important black composers to performing Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” with a drag queen on stage.

“We really do believe that we are a string quartet with purpose,” Rodriguez said. “All of our projects stand for something, and we believe them to have larger impact than just a concert … inevitably changing a landscape that has existed for many, many years unchanged.”

The string quartet will play three works by South American composers at the Winter Chamber Music Festival: Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “String Quartet No. 1,” Astor Piazzolla’s “Suite del Angel” and Alberto Ginastera’s “String Quartet No. 2.”

Rodriguez said he hopes these works will bring “a unique musical voice” to the festival, creating a space for Catalyst Quartet’s message.

“Given where we are as a planet, as a country, as a people, what else matters right now?” Rodriguez said. “The four of us, we believe in using music for good, and hopefully people feel that music can be that catalyst, if you will, to overcome adversity.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @amichelson18