Vanessa Mollard, violin
Riko Higuma, piano
The Zodiac Trio enjoys an international concert schedule that spans three continents and presents an eclectic repertoire that mixes contemporary with the traditional. In its relatively short history - the ensemble formed in 2006 at Manhattan School of Music, before becoming the first American group and the only ensemble with a wind instrument to enter the esteemed Ysaÿe Quartet Chamber Music program at the Paris Superior Conservatory - the Zodiac Trio has managed to achieve a level of recognition on the international chamber music stage, rarely bestowed upon an ensemble of such untraditional instrumentation.
Amongst its many engagements over the past six years, the Zodiac Trio has performed at such leading venues as Ottawa Chamberfest, Festival Radio France Montpellier, International Colmar Festival, the Oriental Performing Arts Center in Shanghai, National Performing Arts Center in Beijing, Izumi Hall in Japan, Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium, Tishman Auditorium and Merkin Concert Hall in New York, UCLA Clark Library in CA; has been broadcast by France 3 Television, Beijing’s CCTV News, Canada’s CBC Radio and Television, NBC, New York’s WXQR (including an hour-long in- studio feature on the Young Artist Showcase), had performances broadcast live on WFMT, featured on WGBH’s “Live from Frasier” in Boston, and has recorded multiple times for Radio France in Paris. In the summer of 2013, the Zodiac Trio successfully launched the Zodiac International Music Academy & Festival in the South of France, which welcomes highly advanced students and presents concerts by both faculty and students throughout the Cote D’Azur during the first two weeks of July (www.zodiacfestival.com)
The Zodiac Trio was originally formed under the guidance of renowned clarinetist David Krakauer and violinist Isodore Cohen of the Beaux Arts Trio. Shortly after its inception, the Trio was introduced to the New York audience by WQXR’s Bob Sherman, who aired multiple performances by the young ensemble on the Young Artist Showcase. Subsequently, the Zodiac Trio gave its official debut at the Kaufman Center, prompting Edith Eisler of the New York Concert Review to describe the young ensemble as “excellent...” praising its “remarkable ability” and “infectious enjoyment of the music.” The debut was followed by a string of concerts in Southern France where the Trio was further praised by the local media: “...unforgettable concerts by the Zodiac Trio! ...Truly exceptional and sublime talent... The prestigious level of the performances radiated the undeniable talent of the trio and foreshadowed their great success in the future.” – raved the Nice- Matin.
In 2007, the Zodiac Trio was first brought to the attention of the international chamber music scene in a feature by the London- based international MUSO magazine, praising the Trio for “bringing a rare combination of instruments into the spotlight by unearthing old repertoire and commissioning new music.” At this time, the young ensemble was making its mark on the competition circuit, having garnered prizes at the Yellow Springs Chamber Music Competition (Ohio, U.S.), FNAPEC International Chamber Ensemble Competition (Paris, France), International Chamber Music Competition of Duchi D'Acquaviva (Italy), Val Tidone International Music Competition (Italy), the Cziffra Foundation (France), Joyce Dutka Foundation for the Arts (New York), International Peninsula Young Artist Festival in California and the ProMusica Ensemble Competition (France), among others. The ensemble also received a Recording Grant and a Commission Grant from Co-op Press, resulting in its first commercial CD. The Zodiac Trio is a laureate of the 6th International Osaka Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and was awarded the Encore Grant from the American Composers Forum in 2010 to support their collaboration with composer Andrew List. In 2013, its latest recording featuring staple trios by Bartok and Stravinsky, in addition to Galina Ustvolskaya and Nicolas Bacri (world premiere recording) received the coveted Ring Award by the French Magazine “Classique Info.”
With its reputation growing, the young ensemble has since performed throughout Canada, United States, Japan, many parts of Europe and most of China’s main cultural metropolises. The ensemble’s performances have been described as “spiritual and sparkling” by Concerto Net, critically praised for its “impeccable technique” (Ouest-France), "remarkable musicality of rare intensity" (La Tribune, France), “awe-inspiring” (NYC.com) “seemingly effortless ease” (San Angelo Standard Times), “truly exceptional and sublime talent,” (Nice-Matin, France); and declared by the French newspaper La Marseillaise as “one the best chamber ensembles of its generation...”
Its numerous appearances have included Festival Radio France Montpellier and International Colmar Festival in France, Matinee Musicale in MN, Russian River Music Festival, UCLA Clark Memorial Library Series, Old First Concerts, InConcert Sierra, Gualala Chamber Music Festival, Smith Center (Ohlone College) and Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in California; Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music in Nebraska; Grand Concert Series and Western State College Guest Artist Series in CO; Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center (Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series); St. Vincent College Concert Series in PA; Schneider Concert Series at the New School, Merkin Concert Hall, Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival in New York; Quogue Chamber Music Festival in the Hamptons; in Boston Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Boston University and Tufts University (MA); Ottawa Chamberfest, Mount Allison University, Virtuosi Concert Series, Four Seasons Performing Arts Center, Performing Arts Newmarket, McMaster University Celebrity Series and Kitchnener Waterloo Chamber Music Society in Canada; Izumi Hall in Japan; the International Composers Forum in Sweden and the long-standing Chamber Music Tulsa, among many others. In addition, the Zodiac Trio has performed three extensive tours of China (2010, 2011 and 2013) appearing in twelve different cities in total. Throughout the tours, the ensemble was consistently presented on the country’s most prestigious stages such as the Oriental Performing Arts Center in Shanghai, National Performing Arts Center in Beijing, Guangzhou Concert Hall, Shenzhen Concert Hall, etc.
Dedicated to education both on a conservatory level and in public schools, the Zodiac Trio is often called upon to present master classes, clinics and music presentations for young audiences. The ensemble has been invited to give master classes and presentations at such institutions as Univeristy of Missouri, University of Minnesota Duluth, San Francisco Conservatory, Western Michigan University, Colorado College, Boston University, Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Tufts University, Tulsa University, Western State College of Colorado, Southeastern State University of Oklahoma, Lonestar College Montgomery in TX, and the China Conservatory of Beijing, among others. In addition, the Zodiac Trio has developed an innovative program for children titled “Sound of the Imagination” which debuted at the Beijing Children’s Theatre and has subsequently been broadcast by CCTV News in Beijing to millions of viewers.
A strong advocate of new music, the Zodiac Trio has commissioned new works in order to expand the clarinet-violin-piano trio repertoire, and strives to serve as a platform of exposure for up- and-coming composers. Commissioned composers include Richard Danielpour, Ofer Ben-Amots, David Colson, Andrew List, Larry Bell, Andy Vores, Xavier Bouchaud, Marcus Paus and Sy Brandon. The Trio’s debut commercial recording included two works written for the ensemble. The Zodiac Trio is founder of the Boston New Music Project, that saw the ensemble in an annual week-long residency in Boston since 2010, that comprised Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Boston University and Tufts University. The BNMP served as an outlet for contemporary music featuring American composers by presenting performances and student- composer readings/clinics, to encourage exposure and growth
The ensemble has also collaborated with composer Richard Danielpour on a commissioned work which received its world premiere in a special event at the Association France- Ameriques in Paris in June of 2013. For this event, the trio was joined by Mr. Danielpour and famed French composer Nicolas Bacri for a performance celebrating the French/American dialogue in the field of contemporary classical music.
The 2014-15 season engagements included Wavehill Concerts (NY), Matinee Musicale (Duluth, MN), Gualala Arts Chamber Music Series (CA), The Reiff Center (MN), Fairmont Chamber Music Society (WV), Old First Concerts (CA), Le Poisson Rouge (NY), Gallery 345 and Toronto Opera Center Chamber Music Series in Toronto, residences at University of Missouri, San Francis University, Mount Allison University and Acadia University; as well as concerts in France and Italy.
Highlights of future engagements include a performance on the Chicago Chamber Music’s 80th season, to be broadcast live on WFMT, a new music residency at Roosevelt University (Chicago), a return to the Virtuosi Concert series in Winnipeg, debuts on the Candlelight Concert Society in Maryland and the Coleman Chamber Music series, as well as a juried showcase at Pacific Contact in Vancouver, and performances with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s principal cellist Ariel Barnes, among others.
In January of 2016, the Zodiac Trio released a new recording featuring works written for the ensemble by American composers Andrew List and Richard Danielpour as well as a work by John Mackey, and put out a special call for scores for a project titled Zodiac: Across the Universe, that comprises 12 one-minute works by 12 different composers.
Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-74RmcwX92xZnAUXr7gfMw
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