Valerie Whitney is surprised to discover One, Two, Trio thriving beyond the pandemic.
The brass trio started out in 2020 as one-time project to record a performance for the non-profit organization Chamber Music in the Schools.
“We never expected it to go beyond that,” says Whitney, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) who plays French horn. “Then we just kept getting together and reading through music.”
Alongside Katherine Evans, who worked in administration at UBC, on the trumpet, and trombonist Jeremy Berkman, a sessional instructor and chamber music coach at the university, the trio rediscovered the joy of simply playing music.
“The pandemic took away the performing side of it, which was devastating, but the fruit of that was we had an opportunity to come back to music as individuals and let it be something that’s about interacting with other musicians and creating a really intimate relationship in that way without performance pressure and that whole dynamic,” Whitney says.
Still, as the pandemic eased and concerts started to take place once again, they were surprised to find an appetite for their offerings. That’s because brass trios are much less common than the more typical quintets.
“None of the three of us expected it,” she says. “But the truth is it’s a great combination of instruments and the music is quite interesting. We can steal music from lots of different instrumentations and rework it for our own performances.”
And, of course, “it’s a lot easier to transport three people than five or eight,” she adds.
Next up, the trio will be performing in the first concert of the Whistler Chamber Music Society’s fall series on Sunday, Oct. 2.
Spread across 45 minutes, their repertoire covers 400 years of music.
“Our earliest composer is William Byrd, born in 1543. Then the most recent we have is a piece written by Stephen Chatman born in 1950, with a piece written last year,” Whitney says.
“The repertoire is going to be from William Byrd to Leonard Bernstein and beyond.”
On top of playing as a trio, they like to “play on our name One, Two, Trio” and allow time for solos as well, she adds.
Music aside, the musicians share a passion for engaging with audiences while performing.
“All three of us really believe that a performance is not 100 per cent until you have developed a relationship with your audience,” Whitney says. “That’s what feeds us as performers. One of my favourite parts is putting the horn down and talking … It’s me sharing my own relationship with music and my own story through music. That’s what I try to do. That’s the value of the performer. It’s not, ‘I’m a wonderful performer. Look at me.’ It’s, ‘Here’s what I have to share. I want to bring you on a journey with me.’”
Catch One, Two, Trio on Oct. 2 at the Maury Young Arts Centre. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for youth under 20. Get them in advance at the Maury Young Arts Centre or online at whistlerchambermusic.ca.
They will also be available at the door.