Chamber music divas to perform in Beaver Creek |

Chamber music divas to perform in Beaver Creek

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” It’s easy to see why magazines dubbed the Eroica Trio the glamour girls of chamber music.

They wear gowns fit for the red carpet and they gravitate toward sultry pieces like tangos.

But sorry boys ” although the group’s name looks startlingly like the “erotica trio,” please note the lack of a letter “T.” You can trace the origin of their moniker to Beethoven’s “Eroica Symphony.”

The ladies garner far more praise for the ear candy they bestow on their audiences than they do for their status as eye candy.

Tonight, the trio will seduce valley audiences with a blend of 20th century music at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

You don’t need to be a classical music groupie to appreciate the program. The women secured a foothold in the male-dominated world of chamber music by veering from the genre’s buttoned-up classics.

“We are sort of are known for having programs that are kind of eclectic and a little bit of everything for everybody and this is a really fun one for the holidays,” Pianist Erika Nickrenz said. “We’re starting off with the Rebecca Clarke trio, which is a fantastic piece, rarely played, by British composer Rebecca Clark. It’s a very sort of impressionistic style and it’s full of romantic melodies and it just really evokes a lot of imagery.”

After falling for the “romantic melodies,” listeners might be tempted to hum along to a mix of popular tunes from “West Side Story.”

The finale is one of the group’s signature pieces, Paul Schoenfield’s “Cafe Music,” which borrows from several American genres. Think ragtime mixed with jazz and African American spirituals.

Fresh from a round of performances in the Amazon, the trio will stop in Vail as part of a larger tour. They plan to perform with tango dancers when they head to San Francisco in April.

Never stagnant, the group is ramping up to the release of a new album in the fall. One track follows the life of country music legend Johnny Cash.

“We’re trying to incorporate it [the album release] with a bus tour, actually,” Nickrenz said. “You know how those country music singers go across the country to small town America? Well, it’s an American album so we are arranging to have a bus wrapped with our image. We’re going to tour around. We’re going to sleep on the bus. A couple of us have kids; we’re going to bring our kids, just go to different parts of America where maybe normally they wouldn’t be able to have us come. We’re going to be playing music even in nightclubs.”

The trio consists of Nickrenz on the piano, Susie Park on the violin and Sara Sant’Ambrogio on the cello. With seven recordings for Angel/EMI Classics under their belts and several Grammies nominations, it’s safe to say the ladies have shaken up the largely testosterone-driven world of chamber music.

“I wouldn’t say we’re looking to change the image [of chamber music] exactly but I do get a little frustrated by Madison Avenue and the advertising you see on TV,” Nickrenz said. “A lot of times, people think chamber music is just for incredibly bored, older men, and looking like they’d just rather fall asleep than anything else. It just makes me upset because it’s so the opposite. I mean, we have as much energy as any rock band playing up there. It takes extraordinary, you know, strength to play our instruments and the music is so powerful and expressive. Basically, when we were first starting, there weren’t any other all-female groups. So we were on the vanguard of introducing something a little different.”

Perhaps that something different is what enchants valley audiences. Sarah Dixon, the marketing manager for the Vilar, said the trio was a phenomenal hit when they last played there six years ago.

“They’re beautiful musicians. They’re one of the most sought-after piano trios touring today. And they also have a really incredibly diverse and mixed and accessible repertoire,” she said, noting the program will blend standard chamber music with contemporary composers. “So I think that really fits with and appeals to the audience in the valley because there are people who are classically trained, and just adore classical music and then there are people who are looking for something a little bit more edgy, a little bit more accessible, a little bit funkier and I think that the Eroica Trio definitely fits both bills.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or

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