On September 29, 2019, the Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio performed in Daniels Auditorium in the North Carolina Museum of History. The Eroica Trio is composed of pianist Erika Nickrenz, violinist Sara Parkins, and cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio; their combined bios are here. These three women have broken gender barriers in classical music and serve as inspirations to those around them. This concert in particular demonstrated their skills and showcased their musical abilities.

First up was the famous Chaconne by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), arranged by British composer Anne Dudley  (b.1956). This selection was written for solo violin; it is the finale of the Partita No. 2, in D Minor, S.1004. Cellist Sant’Ambrogio noted that it’s been orchestrated so a version for trio did not seem a stretch, even if the result was a good deal more romantic in nature than Bach may have intended. The Eroica trio treated us to a wonderful experience. The ensemble provided a rich tone, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Following this, we traveled forward in time to the well-known Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), the last of 14 Romances, Op. 34. The Eroica Trio delivered the music’s beautiful melodic elements of and garnered the audience’s attention throughout. As the name implies, this contains no words; it was skillfully arranged by the Trio.

Ludwig Van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) Piano Trio, Op. 11, isn’t one of the standard piano trios – this one was originally intended for clarinet, cello, and piano. It is an early work that is nonetheless known for its technicalities, rigidity, and difficulty.

The integration of the three instruments is solid, and it stands well alongside the seven standard piano trios. After the serene slow movement, the variations really stuck with me – even after the concert. The trio executed this score flawlessly and to great acclaim from the enthusiastic audience. I was enthralled with the technicalities of the piece and really wowed by how these artists played so seamlessly together. Their chemistry as a trio is a component that really stood out in this concert.

Following intermission, a beautiful tribute was held in memory of Christine Marting Baermann, a former president of CMR who passed away several years ago and left CMR a much-appreciated bequest. The trio respectfully played their arrangement of “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) during a slide show that honored Baermann’s life and love of classical music.

The Eroica Trio finished the program with the Piano Trio No. 1 in B, Op. 8, by Johannes Brahms (1833-97), given in its late revision. The melodies are beautiful, calming, and very pleasing. For newer listeners to classical music, I highly recommend listening to some of the pieces that were played at this concert!

The encore was a festive “Miniature Viennese March” as arranged for piano trio by violinist Fritz Kreisler and (probably) his cellist brother Hugo Kreisler. (Their acoustic recording of it is here.) This got the folks on their feet to head to the lobby for a reception. Hooray!

The members of the Eroica Trio were enthusiastic and passionate about performing as well as visiting with audience members following the program. Overall, this concert took listeners on a musical journey they won’t soon forget. These artists are amazingly talented, and all the many accolades they receive are truly deserved. Interested in hearing the Eroica Trio? They will be performing at the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival this summer. Stay updated on their website for upcoming concert dates elsewhere and for more information.


Editor’s Note: The following morning, at the Church of the Nativity, the Eroica Trio offered an informative public master class that involved thorough work on the opening movements of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11, Brahms’ Piano Trio No. 3, and Beethoven’s “Archduke” Trio. The players were, respectively, the WCPE String Quartet (Joydeep Mukherjee and Jewel Hurtgen, violins, Lauren Southwell, viola, and Sophia Knappe, cello); the Trio Serio (Jaeyee Jung, violin, Catherine Yates, cello, and Maxwell Yates, piano); and the Fantasma Piano Trio (Jaewon Jung, violin, David Daehyun Kim, cello, and Hrishikesh Ram, piano). The coaches who helped the students prepare are Elizabeth Beilman, Bob Anemone, Kent Lyman, and Rebekah Binford, all affiliated with the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute.

These sessions are generally terrific education experiences for everyone in attendance – the students, of course, and their teachers and coaches but also lay attendees and yes, even critics! The formula is perhaps predictable: the students play, the visiting artists make comments and suggestions, the work is repeated, and voilà! It’s much better. But it’s the getting there that makes the journey so worthwhile. And in this instance, the visitors let their hair down (figuratively) and made what are certain to be lasting impressions. Well done, CMR!

For more information on the NCCMI – where around 100 students are mastering this art under professional leadership – click here.