An acknowledged leader in the field of new music, the Verdehr Trio for over thirty years has concentrated on molding and defining the personality of the violin-clarinet-piano trio. The Trio has over the years created a large repertoire by commissioning over 200 new works from some of the world's most prominent and exciting composers--known and unknown, young and old, from this country and abroad. These efforts are entitled The Making of a Medium because, in a real sense, this is what has happened over the years.
A handful of earlier trios by Bartok, Stravinsky, Milhaud, Khachaturian, Berg, Krenek, Poulenc and Ives showed the potential tonal and musical possibilities of this grouping. Now, with more than 230 total works in this genre, the violin-clarinet-piano trio has become a viable chamber music medium whose substantial literature may be recognized together with other major mediums as the piano trio, woodwind and brass quintets and the piano quartet. To round out its repertoire with Classical and Romantic works, the Trio has rediscovered as well as transcribed 18th and 19th century pieces for inclusion in its concert programs.
The Verdehr Trio has performed throughout the world: in seventeen European countries, the former Soviet Union, in South and Central America as well as in Asia, Australia and in almost all of the United States. Among major concert halls where the Trio has appeared are Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Library of Congress, Vienna's Brahmssaal, Sydney Opera House, London's Wigmore Hall, Auditorio de Madrid, Dvorak Hall in Prague, IRCAM Centre in Paris and Leningrad's Philharmonic Chamber Hall. The Trio has also played at various international festivals--the Spoleto Festival, Prague Spring Festival, the Vienna Spring Festival, Warsaw Autumn, the Grand Teton Music Festival and at numerous international clarinet festivals. Recently the Trio received a Creative Programming Award from Chamber Music America.
In addition to trios, the group has also commissioned Trio Concertos from Buhr, David, Ott, Skrowaczewski and Wallace and performed these with Vienna's Tonkunstler Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, Prague Chamber Soloists, Vancouver CBC Orchestra, Grand Rapids and Flint, Michigan Orchestras as well as with the National Orchestra of Spain and the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra. Most recently, Double Concertos for violin and clarinet by James Niblock (3 concerti), William Wallace, Dinos Constantinides, Paul Chihara, Ian Krouse and Richard Mills have been completed.
To complement its commissioning efforts the Verdehr Trio has embarked upon three projects to make the repertoire known and accessible to musicians everywhere. The first is a series of CD recordings of the new works written for the Trio: The Making of a Medium CD Series on Crystal Records (click here to purchase). The second and parallel project is The Making of a Medium Video Series consisting of half-hour programs featuring prominent composers and their works written for the Verdehr Trio. These programs include interviews and discussions by the composers as well as a complete performance of the work. Hosted by Martin Bookspan. These DVDs are available through Such Media, Inc. and can be purchased here. Series I includes composers Leslie Bassett, Alan Hovhaness, Karel Husa, Thea Musgrave, Ned Rorem and Gunther Schuller. Series II includes trios by Alexander Arutiunian, David Diamond, William Bolcom, Betsy Jolas, Libby Larsen, Philippe Manoury, Gian Carlo Menotti, Peter Sculthorpe, Peter Schickele, Joan Tower and Robert Mann. Hosted by Peter Schickele and Walter Verdehr.
The Verdehr Trio is in residence at Michigan State University. An article about the Trio appears in the new Groves Dictionary of Music and the Trio won an Adventuresome Programming Award from ASCAP and Chamber Music America.
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