At Chautauqua in June I heard a terrific chamber trio, Sonic Escape. Shawn Wyckoff, flutist, is married to Maria Millar, violinist and composer. Nan-Cheng Chen plays the cello. All three are exquisitely trained Juilliard graduates who have performed widely. They have so much fun making music–Maria sings, Shawn whistles, Nan-Cheng whizzes across the strings–that the audience has fun, too. They played a Bach Air, a Haydn Divertissement, and several folk-inflected works arranged by Maria and Shawn . Especially enchanting was “Walking the Woods in Twilight,” which Maria had composed just the night before. They had recently visited Shawn’s family, who live near Sandy Springs MD. An old trail in the woods nearby was part of the Underground Railway that assisted slaves escaping from the South. Maria’s music beautifully captures a modern encounter with that history. I bought their CD, Circle the Sea, and am thrilled that they share their art on YouTube:
Synergy is a group of fun-loving musicians I heard July 21 at the Lyceum in Alexandria. Flutist Larry Ink, oboist Sue Logan, and pianist (and personal friend) Laura Marchisotto Bogart played together as students twenty-five years ago and reconvened just this summer. Clarinetist (and NVMTA member) Kristin Grattan Sheridan joined them to present a varied program that garnered them a standing ovation. I had heard none of the pieces they played before, but I liked them all. Piazzola’s Bordel 1900 with Laura and Kristen was my favorite. Larry Ink’s Sonata for Flute and Clarinet was a masterful interplay of the two instruments in a wide range of moods. Works by Haydn, Bartok, Gordon Jacob and William Grant Still added variety and texture. Like Sonic Escape, Synergy musicians love making music together and sharing it with an appreciative audience.