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In-Studio: Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O'Riley Play Beethoven & Rachmaninoff

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The cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O'Riley are quick to emphasize that their recent venture into Baroque period instruments isn't some fusty or antiquated pursuit. The duo's new album, "Beethoven, Period," was recorded at Skywalker Ranch, film director George Lucas's famous studio complex in Northern California. Instead of sheet music they played from iPads. Their Seattle launch concert took place at the Tractor Tavern, a rock club.

The experience with very old instruments also forced them to rethink their approach to Beethoven's music. "All of the sudden, the relation between the cello and the piano is completely different," Haimovitz tells host Elliott Forrest. "No longer am I trying to project over the grandeur of a Steinway grand but I'm actually having to make room for the piano."

"You have a lot more leeway in terms of expressivity and color, even in the sense of one note having a shape to it," added O'Riley.

The album features Beethoven's complete works for cello and keyboard, with O'Riley playing on a fortepiano made in 1823 and Haimovitz outfitting his 1710 Goffriller cello with ox-gut strings, a rosewood tailpiece and a period bow.

The duo's performance in the WQXR studio marked a return to (mostly) modern equipment – with a 1940's Steinway and a modern cello bow – but two movements from the Opus 102 No. 2 sonata had a lightness and transparency that suggested time diligently spent in the period-instrument camp.

As Haimovitz notes, the Opus 102 sonatas "offer a window into Beethoven's late period where he's deconstructing all of the ideas of the enlightenment and what he inherited from Haydn and Mozart and really finding his own voice complete." Below is the third movement.

O'Riley and Haimovitz have previously collaborated on "Shuffle. Play. Listen" (2012), an album of pieces by classical composers (Stravinsky, Janacek, Martinu) along pop acts (Radiohead, Cocteau Twins, Arcade Fire), among others. Both artists have sought to blur the lines between pop and classical over the past decade or more – since Haimovitz began playing Bach in bars and clubs in 2002 and O'Riley started arranging arty rock songs around the same time.

Together the duo is planning a future project of pop songs given classical reworkings by contemporary composers. According to O'Riley, it will include John Corigliano's resettings of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell songs; Philip Glass arranging the Velvet Underground; and Gunther Schuller taking on the band Guided by Voices. A recording is expected to be out this fall.

Haimovitz and O'Riley also don't shy away from lush, romantic works as well, as their final performance in the WQXR studio demonstrates: the Andante from Rachmaninoff's Cello Sonata, Op. 19. Watch that below and listen to the full segment at the top of this page.

Video: Kim Nowacki; Sound: Irene Trudel; Text & Production: Brian Wise; Interview: Elliott Forrest

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    In-Studio: Alina Ibragimova Performs Bach and Ysaÿe

    23:27

    The Russian-born violinist Alina Ibragimova in recent years has developed a following in Europe, especially in the U.K., where she studied and came of age. She appears poised to have a bigger following in New York, too, after her recent performances at the Mostly Mozart Festival and in the studio at WQXR. She came to the WQXR performance studio to present two pieces, starting with Eugène Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 3. Watch the video below and listen to the full segment at the top of this page. This past June, Ibragimova, 29, released a recording of Ysaÿe's six violin sonatas, known as some of the most treacherous solo works in the repertoire. They are portraits, of a sort, of six violinists whom the composer knew in the 1920s: Joseph Szigeti, Jacques Thibaud, Georges Enescu, Fritz Kreisler, Mathieu Crickboom and Manual Quiroga. "You hear the personalities," said Ibragimova. "They feel like proper little dedications." Ibragimova arrived at the station early one August morning after having performed a late-night (10 pm) recital at Lincoln Center's Kaplan Penthouse—one of at least two such performances this summer, another being at London's Royal Albert Hall in July. The violinist believes the late shift helps put audiences in a more contemplative mindset for listening. "I think the atmosphere changes for the time of day," she said. "People listen differently." For her second performance, Ibragimova offered the Largo from J.S. Bach's Solo Violin Sonata No. 3. Ibragimova's still-young career is notable for the sheer breadth of her repertoire interests. She has also formed an all-female string quartet called Chiaroscuro that uses period instruments, though she herself opts for an unorthodox approach to equipment, changing strings, pitch and bows on her (comparably modern) 1780 Anselmo Bellosio violin. "Whilst it works, I find it's not ideal," she said. "Now I'm going to try a different violin to use with the quartet just so I don't have to put my violin through this all the time." When she isn't touring, Ibragimova lives in Greenwich, England with her husband, the Guardian music critic Tom Service. The couple married in the spring, having first met when he interviewed her. She says it isn't difficult having a critic around who is constantly evaluating music. And there are perks: "There are so many books now at home. It's great. He knows all the opus numbers." Video: Kim Nowacki; Audio: Irene Trudel; Interview: Jeff Spurgeon; Text & Production: Brian Wise
  • Café Concerts podkast

    In-Studio: Matt Haimovitz & Christopher O'Riley Play Beethoven & Rachmaninoff

    30:17

    The cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O'Riley are quick to emphasize that their recent venture into Baroque period instruments isn't some fusty or antiquated pursuit. The duo's new album, "Beethoven, Period," was recorded at Skywalker Ranch, film director George Lucas's famous studio complex in Northern California. Instead of sheet music they played from iPads. Their Seattle launch concert took place at the Tractor Tavern, a rock club. The experience with very old instruments also forced them to rethink their approach to Beethoven's music. "All of the sudden, the relation between the cello and the piano is completely different," Haimovitz tells host Elliott Forrest. "No longer am I trying to project over the grandeur of a Steinway grand but I'm actually having to make room for the piano." "You have a lot more leeway in terms of expressivity and color, even in the sense of one note having a shape to it," added O'Riley. The album features Beethoven's complete works for cello and keyboard, with O'Riley playing on a fortepiano made in 1823 and Haimovitz outfitting his 1710 Goffriller cello with ox-gut strings, a rosewood tailpiece and a period bow. The duo's performance in the WQXR studio marked a return to (mostly) modern equipment – with a 1940's Steinway and a modern cello bow – but two movements from the Opus 102 No. 2 sonata had a lightness and transparency that suggested time diligently spent in the period-instrument camp. As Haimovitz notes, the Opus 102 sonatas "offer a window into Beethoven's late period where he's deconstructing all of the ideas of the enlightenment and what he inherited from Haydn and Mozart and really finding his own voice complete." Below is the third movement. O'Riley and Haimovitz have previously collaborated on "Shuffle. Play. Listen" (2012), an album of pieces by classical composers (Stravinsky, Janacek, Martinu) along pop acts (Radiohead, Cocteau Twins, Arcade Fire), among others. Both artists have sought to blur the lines between pop and classical over the past decade or more – since Haimovitz began playing Bach in bars and clubs in 2002 and O'Riley started arranging arty rock songs around the same time. Together the duo is planning a future project of pop songs given classical reworkings by contemporary composers. According to O'Riley, it will include John Corigliano's resettings of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell songs; Philip Glass arranging the Velvet Underground; and Gunther Schuller taking on the band Guided by Voices. A recording is expected to be out this fall. Haimovitz and O'Riley also don't shy away from lush, romantic works as well, as their final performance in the WQXR studio demonstrates: the Andante from Rachmaninoff's Cello Sonata, Op. 19. Watch that below and listen to the full segment at the top of this page. Video: Kim Nowacki; Sound: Irene Trudel; Text & Production: Brian Wise; Interview: Elliott Forrest
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    The Jake Schepps Quintet's Classical Hoedown

    25:46

    Blame it on Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring or perhaps the ridiculous virtuosity that is characteristic of so much bluegrass playing. In the past decade, growing numbers of classical musicians have been mixing it up with fiddlers, banjo players and mandolin pluckers. Yo-Yo Ma has worked with bluegrass players in the Goat Rodeo Sessions; mandolin wizard Chris Thile has played his own concerto with several American orchestras and released an album of Bach partitas. The latest group to explore this hybrid is the Jake Schepps Quintet, a string band whose members are steeped in bluegrass spontaneity but whose repertoire – yes, repertoire – is by composers from the modern classical tradition. They include Matt McBane, Marc Mellits, Gyan Riley, and Matt Flinner. Led by Schepps, a Colorado-based banjoist, the group came to WQXR to play three pieces from "Entwined," their debut album. "Most of the instruments in the string band aren't foreign" to classical composers, said Schepps, in an interview with host Terrance McKnight. "Most classical composers have written for violin, guitar, and bass, and a mandolin is tuned like a violin so it's familiar territory." The quintet's set began with Flatiron VII: Planetary Tuners by Mellits, a Chicago-based composer whose works have been performed by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Kronos Quartet, among other groups. Schepps has been at the forefront of melding bluegrass with other genres for several years. He previously recorded an album of Béla Bartok's music arranged for a string band, "An Evening In The Village," and says he wants to play the music of Henry Purcell for a future project. "I fell in love with his three and four-part fantasias," he said. "I love Baroque music and Bach. I'm always curious for places that I can take string band instruments into new terrain." Schepps added that it's a "lateral step" to transfer pieces from Purcell's viola da gambas to the five-string banjo. The quintet's next selection is the album's title track, by Matt McBane, a Brooklyn violinist and composer who directs the Carlsbad Music Festival in California and whose music has been played by a number of new-music groups. Flinner, who plays mandolin in the quintet, composed the last selection in the set, called Migrations. He tells McKnight that his challenge "was trying, as a bluegrass musician, to write across that line in a long-form manner. Classical music goes so many different directions these days. One thing that we could use more of is more American roots elements added to that. Bluegrass is a uniquely American art form. It feels like it's getting more respect." Schepps added: "My hope is that a classical audience will come to find something interesting about bluegrass." Listen to the full interview and performances at the top of this page. Jake Schepps Quintet Personnel: Jake Schepps: five-string banjoMatt Flinner: mandolinRyan Drickey: violinJordan Tice: acoustic guitarAndrew Small: double bass Videos: Kim Nowacki; Audio: Irene Trudel; Production: Brian Wise; Interview: Terrance McKnight; Production Assistance: Rebecca Stein
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    Café Concert: The Demenga Brothers and Luka Juhart

    25:09

    Successful sibling duos in music are rare. The stress of rehearsing and being constantly on the road together can derail the happiest collaboration. The best-known sibling partnership in musical history – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his sister Nannerl – didn't last long. He went off to Paris, Vienna and Prague; Nannerl settled down into marriage. The Swiss cellists Thomas and Patrick Demenga appear to take their collaboration with a more easy-going attitude. Some 35 years since graduating from Juilliard and the Bern Conservatory, respectively, they are still going strong, and performed together in December at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. "We can go on stage and close our eyes and start without even looking at each other," Patrick Demenga told host Jeff Spurgeon. "We are so close in a way musically that we trust – it's one of the most exciting experiences that you can have on stage." The two cellists, who also have active solo careers, came to the WQXR Café to perform as both a duo and as a trio with the Slovenian accordionist Luka Juhart. Their program combined the music of Bach with two modern works. First up was a transcription of Bach's Sonata in G minor for Gamba and Harpsichord (first movement), with Juhart playing the harpsichord part. "Normally if you play with harpsichord and continuo," said Thomas Demenga, "you have a very thin sound and you have to be very careful as a cellist not to overpower the harpsichord. In this combination with accordion you have a really full range because he can sustain the lines so you have the full polyphony."   Juhart met the Demenga brothers through a composer friend, which led to some festival dates in Europe. At an appearance in Austria last year, David Finckel, the artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, heard the trio and booked them on his series. Although the accordion is a relative outsider in U.S. chamber music circles, Juhart estimates that there are 30 or 40 college-level training programs in Europe where one can major in the instrument (he teaches at the academy in Ljubljana, Slovenia). Below, Juhart performs Vinko Globokar’s theatrical solo piece, Dialog über Luft.While Juhart has sought to explore the outer boundaries of the modernist accordion sound, he has also taken up Baroque works by Rameau, Handel, Scarlatti and Frescobaldi. The Demenga brothers, meanwhile, have been equally versatile, as seen in the last work on their program, an excerpt from Thomas Demenga's Solo per due, which features all manner of bowed and plucked techniques. "It's a bit jazzy but not really because I don't like classical musicians who try to play jazz," said Thomas Demenga. He notes that one of his classmates and friends at Juilliard was the violinist Nigel Kennedy, known for a freewheeling forays into popular styles. "We played on the streets [of New York] to make money," Demenga recalls. The two musicians also played frisbee in the halls of Juilliard. "People hated us," he said with a laugh. Video: Kim Nowacki; Audio: Chase Culpon; Production & Text: Brian Wise
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    Watch: American Boychoir Presents Songs of the Season

    19:51

    The American Boychoir has had an eventful 2014 that's included an appearance in a Hollywood feature film, a visit to the Toronto Film Festival and a December East Coast tour that has the group singing Christmas music in seven different languages. Eleven members of the choir, led by music director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, visited the WQXR studios early this month to present a selection of carols and songs. The ensemble began with "Mary Had a Baby" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Based in Plainsboro, NJ, the American Boychoir is one of two accredited boychoir boarding schools the United States, the other being the Saint Thomas Choir School in Manhattan. The group, which marked its 75th anniversary last year, is characterized by a unique sound and facility in a wide range of styles. Specifically, unlike the famous Vienna Boychoir, on which it was originally patterned, the American Boychoir uses so-called voices-in-transition. "That's what distinguishes us from almost any other boychoir in the world," said Malvar-Ruiz. "It's the fact that we have changing voices still singing with us. It's adding that new color that makes our sound so unique." This allows the ensemble to fill out SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choral arrangements (and beyond), as we hear below in these performances. But as 12-year-old chorister Douglas Butler explains, the choir's sound is also the product of hard work, with a school day that stretches from 8 am to 6 pm. "We've tacked an extra three hours at the end of every day for a rehearsal," he says. "We have to learn a lot of music and a lot of times we have to do it quickly" – and by memory. Below: Bach's Domine Deus: The American Boychoir is the centerpiece of a forthcoming film called "Boychoir." Directed by Academy Award-winning film director Francois Girard, it stars Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates in a feel-good tale about a troubled boy from Texas who attends the American Boychoir School. Due for national release in 2015, it garnered raves at its Sept. 6 premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. "We did three weeks of filming and a few more weeks of recording the soundtrack," said Malvar-Ruiz. The film was shot at Connecticut’s Fairfield University and in New York, but the American Boychoir School's uniforms, logo and identity are to be used. This is just the latest Hollywood encounter for a choir whose performances have been featured in numerous films and commercials since its founding in Columbus, Ohio in 1937. The choir has been steeped in holiday music throughout its history – at least since its first appearance in a national television broadcast of Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, in 1951. Among its performances this month is an appearance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Dec. 16. Watch their fourth WQXR performance below and listen to the full segment, with host Terrance McKnight's interview, at the top of this page. Video: Kim Nowacki; Audio: Irene Trudel; Production & Text: Brian Wise
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    Café Concert: Mivos Quartet

    16:10

    Bach's austerely beautiful Art of Fugue has long fascinated musicians who have a taste for the modern and esoteric. The piece, left incomplete at the composer's death, reduced complex counterpoint to its bare essentials – so much that the composer didn't even indicate the instrument (or instruments) for which it was composed. In fact, most scholars agree that Bach probably intended the piece for the harpsichord, but a few string quartets have made their case for the work too. The New York-based Mivos Quartet recently brought the Contrapunctus XIX from The Art of Fugue to the WQXR Café as part of the station's month-long Bachstock festival. In an arrangement by Patrick Higgins, it dramatically calls attention to Bach's advanced sense of time and musical architecture. Formed in 2008 at the Manhattan School of Music, the Mivos Quartet has put much of its focus and resources into contemporary string quartet repertoire. But early-vintage works also turn up on their programs. "Maybe it seems random," says violist Victor Lowrie, "but when there's a program of new music, there's often much older music too – skipping the Classical and Romantic periods." Lowrie adds that, when compared to an exacting living composer, there's a great freedom when it comes to interpreting early music. Like the famous Arditti Quartet before them, Mivos's members are especially drawn to some of the knottier, more abstruse corners of the contemporary repertoire. Their touring calendar presents a who's-who of avant-garde presenters – from Darmstadt to Roulette and seemingly every modern art museum in between. (The quartet appears at Columbia University's Miller Theater on Dec. 9.) And their programs span established names like Kurtag and Ligeti to relative up-and-comers including Kate Soper and Missy Mazzoli.  But the Mivos musicians say they're hardly dogmatic about styles or genres. Cellist Mariel Roberts recalled a recent, eye-opening tour in Brazil, where she encountered idioms far removed from American or European traditions (more samba than serialism). It made for an amusing clash of cultures: "On the last night we were there, one composer was like, 'I don't understand why you guys have all of this weird music with no rhythm. In Brazil that's not something you do. Why would you take the soul out of music?' "I was like 'well, I never thought about it like that.'" Listen to the full concert above, which also features the fourth movement from Taylor Brook's quartet, El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan (also below), plus commentary from cellist Mariel Roberts and violist Victor Lowrie. Video: Kim Nowacki; Sound: Edward Haber; Production and Text: Brian Wise
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    Café Concert: Dublin Guitar Quartet

    12:38

    The four members of the Dublin Guitar Quartet do not specialize in bouncy jigs and reels. Nor do they play in Guinness-soaked pubs. But while the ensemble is certainly connected to its Irish heritage, its repertoire goes further afield, to minimalist and post-minimalist composers including Philip Glass, Arvo Part and Michael Nyman, as well as modern masters like Igor Stravinsky and György Ligeti. Quartet member Brian Bulger says that the group chose to focus on modern repertoire – frequently in arrangements – as a way to distinguish itself and emphasize its unanimity of sound. "Guitar quartets traditionally tend to be a collection of soloists," he said. "They sit in a straight line and there would be a lot of virtuosity. We thought it would be a great idea to create a quartet that was the equivalent of a string quartet, sitting in a semi-circle and concentrating on string quartet repertoire and choir repertoire as opposed to the standard repertoire." The ensemble's Café Concert highlighted this in two pieces by Glass, starting with an arrangement of his String Quartet No. 2, subtitled "Company."   Earlier this year, the Dublin Guitar Quartet released its latest album, a collection of Glass arrangements, which Q2 Music named an Album of the Week. In his review, Daniel Stephen Johnson praised for its "flawless rhythmic unison and tonal blend makes the four instruments sound like one." Of course, arranging piano or string quartets for guitar can be a logistical stretch: there are questions of how to adjust to the guitar's range and articulations. The Dubliners perform with three six-string instruments along with an eight-string guitar with an extra high string and an extra low string, all designed by Bert Kwakkle, a Dutch guitar maker. When it comes to capturing the intricate rhythmic churn of Glass's scores, the guitarists say it simply comes with time and hard work. The group was formed in 2001 at the Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama, and in recent years, they have toured frequently in North America, Europe and South America. Composers are also writing new works for the ensemble. The guitarists say their next frontier lies in electric guitar quartet repertoire, both through existing pieces like those of the composer Steve Reich, and in a commissioned work by the New York composer Michael Gordon, due to premiere in March 2015. Watch the quartet's performance of Glass's Quartet No. 3, "Mishima," below. Video: Amy Pearl/Kim Nowacki; Audio: George Wellington; Interview: Jeff Spurgeon; Text/Production: Brian Wise
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    Café Concert: Pablo Villegas

    31:45

    The classical guitarist Pablo Villegas has made his home in New York City for a decade, but his performances have a strong sense of his roots in La Rioja, a region in the north of Spain celebrated for its complex red wines as well as its earthy, indigenous folk music. That includes the Spanish Jota, a folk dance that is normally played with mandolins and guitars, singers and dancers. Performing solo, Villegas featured the colorfully virtuosic dance in a Café Concert performance of Tarrega's Gran Jota de Concierto, which featured a variety of strumming and percussive effects. Villegas came to WQXR on the cusp of a busy season. He's making debuts this year with seven U.S. orchestras, including the Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Oregon Symphonies. For six of those seven he'll be playing Rodrigo’s soulful and challenging Concierto de Aranjuez. He also has a new album due out in early 2015, called "Americano." But as Villegas stated at several points during his visit, "music is a journey" and for him, it began at age six when he saw the celebrated Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia performing on television. "I was really touched by it and I told my parents I wanted to learn guitar," he recalled. Villegas's parents enrolled him in a music school and at age seven he gave his first public performance. "Music is a social tool and as a musician I assume the responsibility of connecting to the audience in a way that I can make them feel things that perhaps they've never felt before." Villegas went on to study in conservatories in Madrid and Weimar, Germany, before becoming "attracted by the multicultural nature of New York." In 2004, he began postgraduate studies with professor David Starobin at the Manhattan School of Music. Villegas paid homage to Segovia in this performance of the Prelude No. 1 by Villa-Lobos, who wrote this piece for the guitar legend. Villegas's own career took off after winning the Andrés Segovia Award at age 15. He went on to receive many more prizes, while making debuts with a number of American and European orchestras. Currently, he is a cultural ambassador to the Vivanco Foundation in Spain, which combines a winery and museum of wine culture. "Wine, art – we used the same words to lexicon to express what we are feeling," he noted. "It's about emotions, it's about getting inspired by it." For this last piece, Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra), Villegas suggests pairing it with a Reserva, a red wine. "It's more calm and mature," he said. "It does go deeper into your emotions." Video: Amy Pearl; Audio: Edward Haber; Text and production: Brian Wise; Interview: Naomi Lewin
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    Café Concert: Zuill Bailey

    28:34

    VIDEO: Zuill Bailey Plays Selections from Bach's Cello Suite No. 3"Playing Bach – and I don't jokingly say this – is like public therapy," said the cellist Zuill Bailey, just after finishing several movements from Bach's Cello Suites in the WQXR Café. "You're feeling unbelievable one moment and you're feeling very insecure in the next. "When you play Bach well, or you feel that it's going well, there is no greater feeling, because it's a completion of your work and your emotions." If the wavy-haired Bailey seemed to be particularly Zen-like on this steamy July morning, he believes it may have been an after-effect of his recent time in Alaska, where since 2011 he has been the artistic director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival. "Alaska is like Bach," Bailey noted. "It makes you feel grounded and complete. It's oxygen for the soul." Despite his relaxed manner, Bailey also an exceedingly busy artist with a wide-ranging resume. Among its highlights are nearly three-dozen recordings, from the big standard concertos (Dvorak, Elgar, Tchaikovsky) to an upcoming album pairing Bloch's Schlomo with Nico Muhly's Cello Concerto, of which he gave the U.S. premiere in 2013. The cellist frequently tries to pair well-known works with rarities in an effort to challenge audiences, albeit in modest doses. Bailey, who is based in El Paso, TX, travels with a 1693 Matteo Gofriller, an instrument formerly owned by Mischa Schneider of the Budapest String Quartet. He becomes effusive when describing the cello, which is noticeably large and features a rose carved on top under the fingerboard. "It has a very unique sound," said Bailey. "It's very broad and bass-y and yet has the singing ability to play solo lines up top as well." In our interview, attention eventually turned to Bailey's most unusual calling-card: his acting stint as a murderous cellist on the HBO prison series "Oz" between 1997 and 2003. Over a decade later, he believes it was important that he set the parameters of his character – who was imprisoned after stabbing a violinist with the endpin of his cello. "They had me saying really horrible things on the show," Bailey said of the original script. "I said, 'my audience would not understand that this is fake and they would see me as that person. And I can't be that person if I'm playing a performing cellist. So my dialogue was cut down to a bare minimum." Bailey also stipulated that he be able to choose his own music, which included bits of Bach and Paganini. Does Bailey have any more acting in his future? "I hope not," he said, laughing. "I love the idea of bringing the cello to new audiences but I'm not searching those things out." Video: Kim Nowacki; Audio: Edward Haber; Text & Production: Brian Wise; Interview: Naomi Lewin
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    Café Concert: Time for Three

    11:10

    Within the last month, the string trio Time for Three has had the unusual distinction of being covered by the Today Show, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Strad and yes, WQXR. The reason? Violinists Zachary De Pue and Nicolas Kendall were told they couldn’t take their violins inside the cabin on a US Airways flight from North Carolina to Arkansas. It was at that point that De Pue began playing J.S. Bach's Partita No. 3 on the tarmac while Kendall, recording the incident on his phone, shows the pair being ignored by various US Airways personnel. The musicians’ video of the incident was posted on YouTube, which quickly set off a social media storm. (US Airways later described it as a misunderstanding of carry-on rules between its employees and the musicians.) Even as Time For Three came on a wider public's radar (and its Facebook feeds) with the incident, the trio has been active for over a decade, appearing everywhere from symphony halls to jazz clubs to football games and even the Indianapolis 500 auto race. The musicians first met and began jamming together in 1999 while classmates at the Curtis Institute of Music. They got their first formal gig in 2001 and soon the sideline became a more serious pursuit. “Our common ground is classical music and each one of us brought a different genre to the table,” Double bassist Ranaan Meyer said in an interview with WQXR host Naomi Lewin. Kendall’s interests included gypsy jazz, hip-hop and R&B; De Pue specialized in Texas fiddling and folk music; Meyer played jazz. “What was really unique was we were able to teach each other some of the influences from those other genres, respectively. In the WQXR Café, the group played two selections for their new, self-titled album on Universal Classics, starting with "Roundabouts," an intimate piece by Kendall that features a round structure. Since 2009, Time for Three has been in residency with the Indianapolis Symphony, where De Pue is the concertmaster. The trio's next song, “Banjo Love,” by Meyer, gives a hint of the American fiddling tradition that has become a part of its musical DNA. It also pays homage to the noted banjo player Béla Fleck, who is a musical hero of the group. The trio’s final song in the café is a cover version of Coldplay’s "UFO." While it attests to the strong pop influences on Time for Three, the musicians are quick to call attention to their classical credits. Along with appearing at Carnegie Hall and other major venues, they have commissioned high-profile composers including Jennifer Higdon, William Bolcom and Chris Brubeck to write works for the group and are currently developing a new piece with the Portland, OR-based composer Kenji Bunch. “When people ask us what we are we have no idea,” noted Meyer, laughing. “We're a marketing nightmare for most record companies. The fact that we're actually signed with Universal is a major pat on the back for us. When we're getting together, frankly it's not a purist thing." Video: Amy Pearl; Audio: Edward Haber; Text & Production: Brian Wise; Interview: Naomi Lewin

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