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Tuesday January 16, 2001

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UA music trio boasts unusual instrumental combination

By Graig Uhlin

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Unusual musical combination sets UA trio apart

When the newly formed Bruch Trio performs tonight at UA's Crowder Hall, those in attendance will be witness to one of the group's first public performances.

Despite this fact, this is no novice group. Composed of Jerry Kirkbride, professor of music for clarinet, Rex Woods, professor of piano, and Jesse Levine, a conductor, violist and conductor-in-residence of the Purchase Symphony Orchestra at the Conservatory of Music at the State University of New York, the group's members have an extensive background in performing.

Kirkbride is a member of the Arizona Wind Quintet, and both Woods and Levine have performed at international venues.

The Bruch Trio is named after the German composer Max Bruch, who wrote eight pieces for the combination of clarinet, viola and piano - a relatively large number of works, considering composers do not often write music for this type of an instrumental combination. The group will perform four of these eight during tonight's concert.

In fact, finding pieces to perform for this often overlooked combination is an ongoing process for the Bruch Trio.

"There's more music than one would think for such a combination, but there's not a lot of it," Kirkbride said.

Kirkbride said that there is a core repertoire of ten or twelve pieces, but the number of works is expanding.

"We keep hearing about pieces we didn't know about," he said.

Kirkbride added that, if needed, the group will have people write contemporary music for the three-instrument combination in order to increase the number of selections they have available to perform.

With their options being so limited, the concert will be a "very varied program," Kirkbride said, because the pieces had to be drawn from different historical periods of music - from classical to Romantic to contemporary.

"The concert is inclusive of all periods of music," Kirkbride said.

As for why these types of pieces are written so infrequently, Kirkbride attributed part of the reason to the similarity in range and quality of sound of the clarinet to the viola. The two instruments are similar enough that, typically, works written for one can be easily transcribed for the other, just as Brahms did for his well-known clarinet sonatas, Kirkbride said. This similarity, he added, will only distinguish the sound heard at the concert.

"(The clarinet and viola) blend extraordinarily well together. The sounds they make are really quite beautiful," he said. "There is a cohesiveness rather than a distinctiveness to the sound."

The Bruch Trio has aspirations beyond tonight's concert, as they are looking to perform as part of the major chamber music series of several U.S. cities.

Kirkbride said that the group is willing to go "as far as it takes us."

The group, having taken the step of hiring management, also released their first recording in May 2000 and will soon release their second in April.

"For a new group, we are making a mark relatively quickly," Kirkbride said. "We have a long way to go. We're not looking for success. We just really enjoy the work that we do."