CONCERT PREVIEW: Clarion Concerts returns live with Trio Virado at Hudson Hall, Saint James Place
Trio Virado, from L to R: João Luiz, guitar; Amy Porter, flute; Jaime Amador, viola. Photo: Dave Schall
Clarion Concerts is back in the field of presenting live performances, with programs on the fall schedule in the Berkshires and Hudson, New York. Their season includes two concerts at Great Barrington’s Saint James Place on October 23 and December 5, and one at Hudson Hall in Hudson on September 26.
The Hudson Hall show features Trio Virado, a flute, viola and guitar ensemble that uses formidable classical chops to deliver musical performances across a wide range of genres – from JS Bach to Astor Piazzolla and, in between, works by contemporary composers, including member trio João Luiz. The Trio Virado has given a world premiere of works by composers Sérgio Assad, Fred Hand and David Sampson. They touch on minimalism and are comfortable with various flavors of jazz. Most importantly, they are comfortable improvising on their instruments, which places them in an elite class of formally trained musicians.
It helps to know that the Trio Virado could just as easily have been called the Three Professors, since the original three members are that same element, Amy Porter at the University of Michigan, Juan-Miguel Hernandez at the Royal Academy. of Music (London) and João Luiz at the State University of New York-Purchase. The group’s new violist, Jaime Amador, is not a teacher, but is currently a visiting artist at the Royal College of Music in London. You can expect all three to set a good example for their students.
The Trio Virado is known to engage fearlessly in the thorniest repertoire, much of which the musicians concoct themselves. They play a lot of complicated stuff, but they don’t shy away from the kind of instantly accessible music that audiences like. (Trio member Amy Porter says band guitarist João Luiz can “play anything, riff anything.”)
I interviewed the band’s flautist, Amy Porter, by email.
Why did you form / join the group, and how has your mission changed since then?
Marianne Sciolino was interested in forming a chamber group from the members of her roster, Sciolino Artist Management. In 2010 João Luiz from the Brasil Guitar Duo and Juan-Miguel Hernandez from the Harlem String Quartet were interested in forming a trio, so we met. We immediately had composers writing songs for us, and the band started to gain followers.
How did you artistically benefit from the restrictions linked to the pandemic?
The trio were able to come together and make some tough decisions. Juan-Miguel decided to return to his hometown of Quebec to teach and perform there regularly. Marianne asked us to meet Jaime Amador, Juan-Miguel’s successor in the Harlem String Quartet. We agreed to meet on Zoom and talk about the repertoire and the possibilities for the band and the investment we were willing to make. We met this week in Ann Arbor and are delighted to provide Marianne with new photos and demos as the newly formed Trio Virado.
How do João Luiz’s original works and arrangements fit into the group’s mission?
João imprinted his genius in the group. We tap into his deep talent and perfect pitch, and we have extraordinary musical moments playing with him. He can play anything, riff anything and teach the style for so many different genres. He’s a stimulating and rewarding composer to play and he will certainly write us another piece to play with Jaime.
Describe the particular challenges of finding a repertoire suitable for a flute, viola, and guitar ensemble.
We love challenges. We tried Bach’s “The Musical Offering” and Milhaud’s “Scaramouche” at a concert – and the guitar had to tune in scordatura, which is not great for the modern five-string guitar. He makes a guitar with another string so he can play this music in the original key, something I like to ask for as much as possible in the arrangement.
You perform works by Sérgio Assad, Fred Hand and David Sampson. What drew your attention to these composers and what attracts you most about the music of each of them?
The Trio Virado has never had to look for a repertoire, since composers regularly ask us to write for us. Sergio and Fred provided their trios for our group premiere 10 years ago. David wrote for us too, as a gift.
We are always excited to bring new chamber music to the world. We also like to organize our favorite tracks for the band. No repertoire, even improvisation, is prohibited.