Wide Wednesdays @ Chelmsford presents:
The International String Trio
Wednesday, August 8,
at 6:30 p.m.
at the MacKay Library
43 Newfield St, North Chelmsford
In case of rain, concert will be held at the Senior Center at 75 Groton
Road, North Chelmsford.
Slava Tolstoy - guitar
Ippei Ichimaru - bass
Jakub Trasak - violin
We just had to have
If the name sounds familiar that's
because The International String Trio performed at the Library's One Book
Coffeehouse in April. Here's another chance to catch them.
True to its name,
The International String Trio has honed an expansive
repertoire embracing nearly a dozen styles from far-flung lands. Employing
their instruments as passports, the adventurous triumvirate unlocks the
doors to a global array of tunes drawn from folk, popular, classical,
film and other sources. Rather than flaunting their eclecticism, the Boston
combo seamlessly renders a treasure trove of melodies with buoyant energy,
intimate acoustic dynamics, stylistically informed phrasing, and loving
attention to detail.
Featuring Russian-born guitarist Slava Tolstoy, Japanese acoustic bassist
Ippei Ichimaru, British violinist Ben Powell or
Prague native Jakub Trasak on violin, the
IST’s players embody its cosmopolitan aesthetic. The trio’s
riveting performances encompass a breathtaking range of styles, including
Gypsy swing, old-time Appalachian laments, traditional Irish reels, celebratory
klezmer, passionate tango, graceful French musette, and burning bluegrass.
While steeped in jazz, they play intricately arranged music that leaves
room for improvisation without focusing on it.
“We’re jazz musicians, but it’s not a jazz project,”
says Tolstoy, the IST’s music director. “We really work on
developing tight arrangements that leave maybe 25 percent for improvisation,
with moments for everyone to shine. But we have some tunes that are all
arranged, from the first note to last. On a piece like ‘Ashokan
Farewell’ we just want to concentrate on the beauty of the melody.
There’s no soloing because it’s unnecessary.”
The IST has earned an avid following by developing several tremendously
engaging, thematic programs, each thoughtfully designed to explore an
enticing array of moods, grooves and textures. The group’s signature
show is “Around the World in 80 Ways,” which showcases the
trio’s stylistic breadth and musical depth. “American Tune”
celebrates the diversity and richness of American musical traditions,
from rural roots to urban innovations. The highly evocative “At
The Movies” focuses on the trio’s original arrangements of
beloved movie themes. And in December the trio breaks out “Holiday
Music,” a program featuring enduring holidays tunes representing
Christmas, Hanukah and other festivities.
noticed that there are some tunes that people will always come to us to
say that’s such a great piece,” Tolstoy says. “Gig after
gig, certain tunes really move people and seize their imagination. That’s
when we know we’ve got a keeper.”
The group’s latest CD, “Appalachia,” is a ravishing
acoustic session featuring the trio’s exquisite musicianship and
articulate arrangements. From “Por Una Cabeza,” the sensuous
theme from “Scent Of a Woman,” and the Gypsy swing treatment
of “Sweet Georgia Brown” to the haunting Hebrew melody “Erev
Shel Shoshanim,” the trio transforms every piece it plays into an
enthralling string adventure.
The IST traces its origins back to 2002, when Tolstoy and Ichimaru started
performing together, playing trio gigs around Boston. They worked with
various violinists, and quickly realized that the uncommon instrumentation
struck a chord with many different audiences. But it wasn’t until
Powell joined the group in 2008, that IST’s singular sound crystallized.
What started as a side project evolved into a bustling sonic laboratory,
as the trio steadily honed its repertoire and expanded its stylistic reach.
“As soon as we played with him, we knew it was the guy for us,”
Tolstoy says. “There are classical violinists, violinists who play
jazz and fiddlers. It’s so rare to find a violinist who can really
cross over and do everything at such a high level. We were looking for
someone like him, with classical tone, but fully comfortable improvising
or playing a bluegrass break.” Born and raised in England, Powell
moved to the U.S. at 19 to study at the Berklee College of Music. He’s
performed under internationally renowned classical conductors such as
Sir Roger Norrington, Marin Alsop, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Keith Lockhart,
and has accompanied pop and jazz icons like Gary Burton, Paul Simon, Herbie
Hancock, Gloria Estefan, Stevie Winwood, and Rosa Passos. Devoted to the
irrepressibly swinging style created by Stephane Grappelli, he has forged
close ties with contemporary Gypsy jazz masters Biréli Lagréne,
Tchavalo Schmitt, Stochelo Rosenberg and Florin Niculescu.
At some gigs Jakub Trasak sits in for Powell. At the MacKay Library this
August Trasak will perform on violin. Jakub Trasak is an accomplished
and versatile violinist and producer from Prague, Czech Republic. Having
earned a violin and vocal diploma at the Prague Conservatory of Jaroslav
Jezek, he released three solo CDs and performed across Europe, besides
attending various violin conferences in the United States. He then joined
Berklee College of Music where he participated in the college’s
finest events, including a performance with American composer Mark O’Connor
who presented his Double Violin Concerto. Using his managerial and production
experience, Jakub also spearheaded the first ever String Department Showcase
at the Berklee Performance center.
As the creative force behind
the IST, Tolstoy brings all his musical training to bear in the ensemble.
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, he studied composition and guitar performance
at St. Petersburg Jazz School. He moved to the U.S. in 1998 after receiving
a scholarship to study at Berklee, where he received a Bachelor's Degree
in Contemporary Writing and Production. A gifted songwriter and producer,
he has worked with major music industry figures such as Kenny Aronoff,
Eric Marienthal, Billy Mann and Larry Dvoskin.
As the IST’s anchor and rhythmic engine, Ichimaru brings his supple
bass and subtle percussion work to the trio. With two decades as a gigging
musician under his belt, he is one of the busiest bassists in Boston and
New York City. His extensive credits including playing with or arranging
for artists such as Gil Askey, Danilo Perez, Phil Wilson and George Garzone.
While the IST owes its success largely to its superlative musicianship,
enthralling performances and original concept, there’s a practical
side too. As a compact trio the group is economical and highly portable.
Comfortable in intimate chamber settings, concert halls or large auditoriums,
the IST performs about 120 shows a year at festivals, jazz clubs, schools
As accomplished educators, the trio often offers outreach programs as
part of their engagements, from master classes to music introduction workshops.
Adept at taking listeners on a far-flung journey, the trio offers insight
into more than a dozen cultures around the world. Recent performances
include an appearance on the popular NPR show “Says You,”
the Arts Northwest Conference in Eugene, Ore., the Festival of Arts and
Ideas, New Haven, Conn., and the Regattabar’s Courtyard Festival
in Cambridge, Mass.
The trio’s rising visibility is no fluke. Grabbing the attention
of audiences with its encompassing concept and unusual instrumentation,
the IST leaves audiences delighted, thrilled and eager to hear more. Recently
signed by Robert Baird’s powerful BAM! Agency for Concert Halls
bookings, the group is poised to exponentially expand its reach. With
two new albums in the works slated for release in 2012 and a rapidly filling
2012-13 calendar, the International String Trio is going international.
their website at http://www.internationalstringtrio.com/