Music of Barriere, Smetana, Bach and Schoenfield
Erika Nickrenz, piano
Sara Parkins, violin
Sara Sant'Ambrogio, cello
Christopher Rex, cello
ABOIUT THE ARTISTS
One of the most sought-after trios in the world, the Grammy®-nominated Eroica Trio thrills audiences with flawless technical virtuosity, irresistible enthusiasm and sensual elegance. Whether playing the great standards of the piano trio repertoire or daring contemporary works, the three young women who make up this celebrated ensemble electrify the concert stage with their passionate performances. The New York Times writes, “They play chamber music for the concert hall. There is an edge of the seat intensity to every note they produce”. The Trio won the prestigious Naumburg Award, resulting in a highly successful Lincoln Center debut and has since toured the United States, Europe, and Asia. While maintaining their demanding concert schedule, the Eroica Trio has released eight critically lauded recordings for Angel/EMI Classics Records, garnering multiple Grammy® nominations.
The unique history of the players of the Eroica Trio goes all of the way back to their childhoods. Their first connection was made when cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio and pianist Erika Nickrenz were 12 years old. Sara’s father, John Sant’Ambrogio, then principal cellist of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, was being recorded by Erika’s mother, Grammy Award winning record producer Joanna Nickrenz. This working relationship led to Erika joining Sara at her family’s music camp in the Berkshire Mountains, Red Fox, where Erika studied piano with Sara’s grandmother, Isabelle Sant’Ambrogio, a renowned pianist and pedagogue.
The trio’s musical connection continued when, a few years later, Sara attended renowned music camp Meadowmount. There she met, played and became fast friends with violinist Sara Parkins. After playing together that summer, Ms. Sant’Ambrogio was invited to finish high school at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and Ms Parkins was accepted to attend Juilliard Pre-College, where she met and started playing with Erika. Later, Ms Parkins decided to join Ms. Sant’Ambrogio at Curtis, where they renewed their personal and musical friendship. After a year as roommates and musical collaborators, Ms Sant’Ambrogio was invited to attend Juilliard where she resumed playing with Erika.
A few years later, Sara Parkins and Erika Nickrenz reunited at the Tanglewood Music Festival. That same year the Eroica Trio was formed at the Juilliard School. This intricate web of early connections helped forge a lifelong bond between the three women of the Eroica Trio.
The Eroica Trio performs the Beethoven Triple Concerto more frequently than any other trio in the world, having appeared with renowned such symphonies such as Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco and Mostly Mozart Orchestra. In addition, The Trio has performed the work abroad with Orquesta Sinfonica de Euskadi in Spain, Haydn Orchestra in Italy, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Budapest Symphony in Germany, and on multiple tours in the United States with the Cincinnati Symphony as well as with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, culminating in a Lincoln Center performance. The Eroica Trio’s recording of the Beethoven Triple with the Prague Chamber Orchestra was so successful it landed this piece on Billboards Top 20 for the first time in recording history.
The Eroica Trio is on the vanguard of a new generation of artists who are changing the face of classical music. The first all-female chamber ensemble to reach the top echelon of its field, the Eroica broke an age-old gender barrier. As the Chicago Sun Times remarked, "Our image of the piano trio is largely formed by groups like the celebrated [original] Beaux Arts, three middle-aged gentlemen who apply their wisdom and artistry to their chosen repertory. That image is about to change." The Trio took its name from Beethoven's passionate Third Symphony. Italian for "heroic," eroica is a word that aptly reflects the ensemble's approach to music. As critics have noted, "It's been decades since this country has produced a chamber music organization with this much passion." (The San Francisco Examiner)
The Trio has established a unique identity by creating innovative programs that span 300 years of music. A typical Eroica Trio concert might include the Baroque symmetries of Vivaldi, the passion of Brahms, and Mark O’Connor’s Bluegrass and rock-a-billy ode to Johnny Cash, “Poets and Prophets,” which was written for them. The Eroica also is a champion of new composers, with each season including an American or world premiere of a new work. Recently, the Trio premiered a new Triple Concerto by the American wunderkind Jay Greenberg and the world premiere of a work by acclaimed American composer, Kevin Puts, commissioned by Music Accord.
As the official representative for New York's Carnegie Hall, the Eroica Trio opened the sold-out "Distinctive Debuts" series at Weill Recital Hall. This touring series, created to showcase rising stars of classical music, was internationally sponsored by a consortium of European halls and included performances at Konzerthaus in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie in Cologne, Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Symphony Hall at ICC in Birmingham, and Konserthus in Stockholm. The Eroica's performances were received with rave reviews. "The Trio plays with technical flair, raw, driven energy and high spirits. The ensemble also has plenty of charm and stage presence. It was obvious that all three musicians were having as much fun as the [Carnegie Hall] audience." (The Wall Street Journal)
In addition to its demanding concert and recording schedule, the Eroica Trio is committed to music education, giving concerts, master classes and special children's shows at schools and colleges throughout the country. The trio feels so strongly about the benefits of music that they have performed at homeless shelters, senior centers and prisons to bring the music to people who might not normally have the chance to hear live performances. Each summer, the Trio performs at music festivals throughout the world, including the Hollywood Bowl, Aspen, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, and Spoleto, Italy.
Erika Nickrenz, piano
Pianist Erika Nickrenz is a native of New York, where she made her concerto debut in Town Hall at age 11. Ms. Nickrenz began her studies with German Diez and received her B.M. and M.M. degrees from the Juilliard School as a pupil of Abbey Simon. She is an active solo and chamber musician with more than eighty concerts this season. She has appeared as soloist with the Jupiter Symphony in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and has toured with Music from Marlboro. As a member of Chamber Soloists USA, she toured Tasmania and Australia, resulting in performances at the Sydney Opera House. Ms Nickrenz has appeared in many festivals, including Marlboro, the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, La Musica and Tanglewood, where she received the prestigious Rockefeller Award.
She has collaborated with many renowned artists including Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, Carter Brey, Stanley Drucker, Paula Robison, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and was the founding member of the Walden Horn Trio. Ms. Nickrenz performed solo excerpts from Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the “Backstage at Lincoln Center” television series, narrated by Hugh Downs; the program was aired on PBS’ opening night of “Live from Lincoln Center”. She has recorded several CD’s on the MusicMaster and ASV London labels and now records exclusively for EMI Classics.
Sara Parkins, violin
Violinist Sara Parkins is stylistically versatile, with experience ranging from classical to jazz. The latter can be heard in her recordings with NYC's downtown avant jazz players such as Guy Klucevsek’s Bantam Orchestra. She performed with cousin Zeena Parkins & Gangsterband Parkins -- which included members of EasSide Percussion -- at the 1999 Moers Festival, and appears on several of Zeena's recordings. Her experience in classical performance includes being a former member of the St. Louis Symphony and the Orchestra of St. Luke's and her continuing membership in the Angeles String Quartet. Originally from Michigan, Sara Parkins attended the Curtis Institute and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for her undergraduate studies, after which she went to the State University of New York at Stony Brook to earn her master's degree.
Sara Sant'Ambrogio, cello
Grammy Award-winning cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio first leapt to international attention when she was a winner at the Eighth International Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition in Moscow. As a result of her medal, Carnegie Hall invited Ms. Sant'Ambrogio to perform a recital that was filmed by CBS News as part of a profile about her, which was televised nationally. The New York Times described Ms. Sant'Ambrogio's New York debut as "sheer pleasure," saying “There was an irresistible warmth in everything Miss Sant’Ambrogio did."
She has appeared as a soloist with such orchestras as Atlanta, the Beijing Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Budapest, Chicago, Dallas, Moscow State Philharmonic, the Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Osaka Century Orchestra (Japan), The Royal Philharmonic, St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle. She has performed thousands of concerts on six continents at the world’s major music centers and festivals, including Aspen, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, the Konzert Huset in Stockholm, Marlboro, Mostly Mozart, Musikverein in Vienna, Ravinia, Orchard and Suntory Halls in Tokyo and Great Mountain Festival in Korea.
Always looking to push the boundaries of classical music, Sara has performed with Sting, Trudie Styler, and Joshua Bell in the production of “Twin Spirits,” the story of the love affair between Robert and Clara Schumann. The Los Angeles Times said, “Joshua Bell and Sara Sant’Ambrogio played with lyrical restraint and lovely tone.”
Ms Sant'Ambrogio started cello studies with her father John Sant'Ambrogio, principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony, and at the age of 16 was invited on full scholarship to study with David Soyer at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she received her High School Diploma. Three years later world renowned cellist Leonard Rose invited Ms. Sant'Ambrogio to study at The Juilliard School. Within weeks of arriving, she won the all-Juilliard Schumann Cello Concerto Competition, resulting in the first of many performances at Lincoln Center.
Recent highlights for Ms Sant'Ambrogio were a U.S. tour as soloist with Maestro Fabio Luisi and The Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the culmination of her Bach Project with the release of Volume II of Bach Solo Cello Suites, about which Gramophone Magazine raved, “Technically formidable and intensely communicative, these performances grab you by the ears and refuse to let you go.” About Volume I, Gramophone said, “She comes impressively close to the soul of Bach.”
Ms Sant'Ambrogio performs on a Johannes Gagliano cello, Napoli, ca.1800.