The girls are back in town

Vanguard Concerts’ DAI series proudly welcomes back Claremont Trio

By Gary Spencer

If I have ever noticed any trends in Dayton, one that stands out in my mind is that if you’re a musical group that plays here and you’re a big hit with the audience, you keep coming back. That certainly seems to be the case with the three-woman classical ensemble known as the Claremont Trio, a group who made their Gem City debut performing as part of the Vanguard Concerts’ series at the Dayton Art Institute in 2003. Their pristine, virtuosic playing skills wowed the crowd so much that their performance this coming Sunday will mark their seventh return to our fair city.

“We have played on the Vanguard series many times and love the warm and enthusiastic Dayton audience,” Claremont Trio violinist Emily Bruskin says. “[Vanguard Concert Series founders] Elana and Vince Bolling have become treasured friends of ours, and we would happily come to Dayton any time they ask!”

According to Bruskin, classical music is in her and twin sister Julia’s blood, as the two began playing at a very young age.

“We have been playing our instruments since we were young children,” Bruskin explains. “Julia’s and my parents are great lovers of classical music and excellent amateur musicians who play violin and viola. The story goes that as soon as they found out they were going to have twins, they said, ‘Great! The twins can play violin and cello, and then we’ll have a family string quartet!’”

While attending the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, the sisters along with original pianist Donna Kwong formed Claremont Trio in 1999. In 2001, the trio won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, which landed the group booking and management services that allowed the ensemble to begin touring professionally. A few years later, the ensemble won the prestigious Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award, which allowed them to make their debut recording and set them off on a two-year tour of some of the most hallowed chamber music venues in the U.S. Since then, the group has gigged at legendary venues such as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, released five more albums, including a recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and has amassed a loyal fanbase. In 2012, Kwong was replaced by Andrea Lam on piano, but Claremont Trio has kept rolling strong.

“Over the course of our 15 years of touring, we have developed a reputation that also helps us get new and return engagements,” Bruskin says. “It’s always a thrill to play in beautiful, historic venues like Carnegie and the Kennedy Center. It’s fun to think about the artists who have played there before us, and at Carnegie, that is an especially long and illustrious list.”

In addition to their long list of US concert engagements over the course of their career, Claremont Trio has also conquered classical audiences in Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Australia, Mexico and Canada. Bruskin says that despite classical music culture being different from one nation to the next, once the group begins to play, their skills and music selection wins everyone over in the end.

“I think the universal language of music reminds us of the things that all people have in common,” Bruskin elaborates. “And in a time when there is much focus on the differences between people, it is good to be reminded of how much we all share.”

While Claremont Trio’s upcoming engagement at the Dayton Art Institute will feature tried and true pieces by legends like Haydn, Brahms and Dvorak, the group also works extensively with contemporary composers on new pieces specifically for their ensemble, which the group plans to record in the near future. Despite all their success and forward-thinking endeavors, Claremont Trio’s primary mission is to spread their love of classical music to audiences both familiar and those yet to discover the glorious power contained within the music they play.

“We hope to continue sharing music that we love with audiences of all ages,” Bruskin says. “I think music is a universal language, and you don’t need any training or knowledge about classical music to enjoy it. For me, the difference between a Brahms trio and a pop song is like the difference between a great movie and a commercial. The commercial might make you laugh or even cry, but a movie brings you into a new world, introduces you to complex characters and tells you an emotionally rich story with plot twists and surprises, a story that thrills you and tears at your heartstrings, a story that resonates because it reminds you of choices you have faced and feelings you have felt. A great concert should do all of that.”

 Claremont Trio will perform as part of the 2016 Vanguard Concerts’ series at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 10 at the Dayton Art Institute’s NCR Renaissance Auditorium. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students. For tickets or more information please visit daytonartinstitute.org/events-activities/musicconcerts/vanguard.

Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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