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Press Releases

Zodiac Trio Releases New CD for Blue Griffin Label Featuring Trios by Bartok, Stravinsky, Ustvolskaya and Bacri

December 13, 2012 | By Blue Griffin Recording
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A new CD from the Blue Griffin Recording label features the award-winning clarinet-violin-piano ensemble, Zodiac Trio, and their rendition of two monumental works for this instrumentation: Béla Bartók's legendary Contrasts and Igor Stravinsky's own brilliant arrangement of his L'Histoire du Soldat. In addition, the disc offers a haunting Trio by the Soviet-era composer Galina Ustvolskaya, and a world premiere recording of Nicolas Bacri's lighthearted Smiling Suite.

Formed in 2006 at the Manhattan School of Music in NY and trained at the Paris Conservatory, the Zodiac Trio has achieved unprecedented success in its field, culminating in an invitation to join the distinguished roster of the international management powerhouse - Columbia Artists Management Inc. The ensemble's path is studded with prizes, awards, as well as unconventional milestones such as an apprenticeship with the famed Ysaye Quartet, becoming the first American group and the first ensemble with a wind instrument to be chosen for the program.

The repertoire chosen for the recording reflects the Zodiac Trio's mission to reinforce the presence of masterworks of its instrumentation on the international chamber music scene, as well as bring to light hidden gems and introduce new works of great potential.

The two trios by Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky are the defining works of the clarinet-violin-piano repertoire, and have become business cards for the Zodiac Trio who have spent years molding a career around these works. The "discovery" piece of the recording is a trio by the lesser-known Galina Ustvolskaya whose voice, once silenced by the Soviet Regime, is now being accepted as being on par, if not at times above that of Shostakovich and Prokofiev. The final work is a tongue-in-cheeck collection of hommages to the great composers and styles of classical music from Bach to Shostakovich, aptly titled a “Smiling Suite.”

The complete repertoire is as follows:

Igor Stravinsky - Suite from "L'Histoire du Soldat" (1918)

Nicolas Bacri - "A Smiling Suite"Opus 100b (2007)

Galina Ustvolskaya - Trio (1949)

Béla Bartók - Contrasts Sz. 111. BB 116 (1936)

The CD was recorded at Blue Griffin’s Studio The Ballroom in Lansing, MI, produced and engineered by Sergei Kvitko, and is available at www.BlueGriffin.com, iTunes, Amazon, as well as other online and physical retail outlets.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

The Zodiac Trio enjoys an international concert schedule that spans three continents and presents an eclectic repertoire that mixes contemporary with the traditional. Protégé of the renowned Ysaÿe Quartet at the Paris Superiour Conservatory, the Zodiac Trio has performed at such leading venues as the famed Festival Radio France Montpellier, International Colmar Festival, the Oriental Performing Arts Center in Shanghai, Izumi Hall in Japan, Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium and Tishman Auditorium in New York; has been broadcast by France 3 Television, Beijing’s CCTV News, Canada’s CBC Radio and Television, New York’s WXQR and WNYC, featured live on WGBH’s “Live from Frasier” in Boston, and has recorded multiple times for Radio France in Paris.

The Zodiac Trio was originally formed in 2006 at the Manhattan School of Music under the guidance of renowned clarinetist David Krakauer and violinist Isodore Cohen of the Beaux Arts Trio. Shortly after its inception at the Manhattan School of Music, the Trio was introduced to the NY audience by WQXR’s Bob Sherman, who aired multiple performances by the young ensemble on the “Young Artist Showcase.” Subsequently, the Zodiac Trio gave its official debut at the Kaufman Center, prompting Edith Eisler of the New York Concert Review to describe the young ensemble as “excellent…” praising its “remarkable ability” and “infectious enjoyment of the music.” The debut was followed by a string of concerts in Southern France where the Trio was further praised by the local media: “…unforgettable concerts by the Zodiac Trio! ...Truly exceptional and sublime talent... The prestigious level of the performances radiated the undeniable talent of the trio and foreshadowed their great success in the future.” – raved the Nice-Matin.

In 2007, the Zodiac Trio was first brought to the attention of the international chamber music scene in a feature by the London-based international MUSO magazine, praising the Trio for “bringing a rare combination of instruments into the spotlight by unearthing old repertoire and commissioning new music.” At this time, the young ensemble was making its mark on the competition circuit, having garnered prizes at the Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition (U.S.), FNAPEC International Chamber Ensemble Competition (Paris), International Chamber Music Competition of Duchi D'Acquaviva (Italy), Val Tidone International Music Competition (Italy), the Cziffra Foundation (France), Joyce Dutka Foundation for the Arts (New York), International Peninsula Young Artist Festival in California and the ProMusica Ensemble Competition (France), among others. The ensemble also received a Recording Grant and a Commission Grant from Co-op Press, resulting in its first commercial CD. The Zodiac Trio is a laureate of the 6th International Osaka Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and was awarded the Encore Grant from the American Composers Forum in 2010 to support their collaboration with composer Andrew List.

With its reputation growing, the young ensemble has since performed throughout Canada, United States, Japan, many parts of Europe and most of China’s main cultural metropolises. The ensemble has been critically praised for its “impeccable technique” (Ouest-France), "remarkable musicality of rare intensity" (La Tribune, France), “seemingly effortless ease” (San Angelo Standard Times), “truly exceptional and sublime talent,” (Nice-Matin, France); and declared by the French newspaper La Marseillaise as “one the best chamber ensembles of its generation...”

Its numerous appearances have included Festival Radio France Montpellier and International Colmar Festival in France, Russian River Music Festival, Old First Concerts and Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in California; Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music in Nebraska; Grand Concert Series and Western State College Guest Artist Series in CO; Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center; St. Vincent College Concert Series in PA; Schneider Concert Series at the New School, Merkin Concert Hall and Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center in New York; Quogue Chamber Music Festival in the Hamptons; in Boston Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Boston University and Tufts University (MA); Mount Allison University, Virtuosi Concert Series, Four Seasons Performing Arts Center, Performing Arts Newmarket, McMaster University Celebrity Series and Kitchnener Waterloo Chamber Music Society in Canada; Izumi Hall in Japan; and the International Composers Forum in Sweden, among many others. In addition, the Zodiac Trio has performed two extensive tours of China (2010 and 2011) appearing in twelve different cities in total. Throughout the tours, the ensemble was consistently presented on the country’s most prestigious stages such as the Oriental Performing Arts Center in Shanghai, National Performing Arts Center in Beijing, Guangzhou Concert Hall, Shenzhen Concert Hall, etc.

Dedicated to education both on a conservatory level and in public schools, the Zodiac Trio is often called upon to present master classes, clinics and music presentations for young audiences. The ensemble has been invited to give master classes and presentations at such institutions as Boston University, Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Tufts University, Western State College of Colorado, Southeastern State University of Oklahoma, Western Michigan University, Colorado College, Ningboa University (China) and the China Conservatory of Beijing. In addition, the Zodiac Trio has developed an innovative program for children titled “Sound of the Imagination” which debuted at the Beijing Children’s Theatre and has subsequently been broadcast by CCTV News in Beijing to millions of viewers. A strong advocate of new music, the Zodiac Trio has commissioned new works in order to expand the clarinet-violin-piano trio repertoire, and strives to serve as a platform of exposure for up-and-coming composers. Commissioned composers include Richard Danielpour, Ofer Ben-Amotz, Andrew List, Larry Bell, Andy Vores, Margaret McAlistor, Xavier Bouchaud, Marcus Paus and Sy Brandon. The Trio’s debut commercial recording included two works written for the ensemble. In 2010, the Zodiac Trio launched an annual residency titled the Boston New Music Project in collaboration with Berklee College and Boston Conservatory, which serves as an outlet for contemporary music featuring American composers by presenting performances and student-composer readings/clinics, to encourage exposure and growth of new music in the United States.

The Zodiac Trio is on the artist roster of the Cziffra Foundation in Paris, an organization dedicated to promoting Europe’s top young artists. In addition, the young ensemble was chosen by Culture France to receive support from the « Declic » Program, partner with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Mecenat Musical Societe General. The Zodiac Trio also enjoys the generous support of the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation. The Zodiac Trio benefits from financial support of SPEDIDAM, which makes international touring possible.

In the summer of 2013, the Zodiac Trio will launch the Zodiac International Music Academy & Festival in Southern France.

The Zodiac Trio is managed exclusively by Columbia Artists Management Inc. For further information: www.ZodiacTrio.com.


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