Press Room

Time For Three Releases Letters for the Future, Concertos by Pulitzer Winners Kevin Puts and Jennifer Higdon, with Philadelphia Orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon (June 10)

Time for Three (photo: Shervin Lainez)

(May 2022) — Innovative string trio Time For Three (TF3) – praised by Simon Rattle as “benevolent monsters, monsters of ability and technique surely. But also conveyors of an infectious joy that I find both touching and moving” – releases the new album Letters for the Future with The Philadelphia Orchestra led by Xian Zhang on Deutsche Grammophon on June 10. The trio’s debut album on the DG label comprises world premiere recordings of two technically demanding and musically virtuosic concerti for trio and orchestra by two Pulitzer Prize-winning composers, written 15 years apart: Jennifer Higdon’s 2007 Concerto 4-3 and Kevin Puts’s brand-new Contact, the first track of which is available May 20. (For an advance press download or streaming link, please contact Louise Barder.) A PBS Articulate episode about the project will be released to PBS affiliates nationwide on May 24.

Time For Three comprises two violinists, Nicolas “Nick” Kendall and Charles Yang, and bassist Ranaan Meyer; all three musicians are also vocalists, a defining feature of the group since Yang joined in 2015 that Puts makes good use of in Contact. Both Kendall and Meyer attended Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute and played early in their careers with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Yang graduated from Juilliard. Matías Tarnopolsky, president and CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, explains:

“The Philadelphia Orchestra’s collaboration with Time For Three showcases works by two of the most innovative and exciting composers of our day, Jennifer Higdon and Kevin Puts, that we hope will inspire an expansion of the repertoire for string trio and orchestra for future generations. This recording also represents a homecoming of sorts, as we welcome back the musicians of Time For Three, who have deep connections to Philadelphia. Among the many things that shine through in this project is the special bond that exists between Time For Three and The Philadelphia Orchestra.”

Contact was commissioned for Time For Three by a group of orchestras* and PACs led by the San Francisco Symphony and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), The Philadelphia Orchestra’s summer home. San Francisco had been slated to play the work first in the summer of 2020, followed by the other commissioning orchestras, until the pandemic caused a change of plan. In the end, the Florida Orchestra gave a “sneak peek” premiere this past March, with San Francisco, SPAC, and Sun Valley Music Festival performances to follow this summer in July and August. Puts’s idea for the work was to write something that was “of the unknown,” and he experimented with the ideas of unexplored frontiers and the greater beyond. TF3 elaborates:

“When the world was plunged into the fragility of the pandemic … we were really inspired by the incredible work and international cooperation that was happening on the International Space Station – how humans from all over the world were quite literally rising above us all, working together for a future that transcended the pandemic. The idea that there were people able to look at the world from a perspective we lacked instilled a sense of hope for the future in us, and that hope has been woven into the very fabric of this concerto.”

Puts also highlights the influence of the pandemic on the title, which was originally just Triple Concerto:

“The wordcontact has gained new resonance during these years of isolation. It is my hope that this concerto might be heard as an expression of yearning for this fundamental human need. I am deeply grateful to Time For Three for their belief in my work and for the tireless collaborative spirit which allowed us to develop this showcase for their immense talents.”

A video of TF3 recording Contact with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Xian Zhang can be found here.

Higdon’s Concerto 4-3 was commissioned for Time For Three by The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Wheeling Symphony. The concerto was premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra and TF3 in 2008 under the baton of one of the group’s mentors, Christoph Eschenbach. They have performed it since with dozens of other orchestras, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, led by Marin Alsop, in Carnegie Hall. A video of TF3 recording Concerto 4-3 with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Xian Zhang can be found here. TF3 explains:

“At the time that Higdon was commissioned for this project by a stellar orchestral consortium, we had been experimenting with various musical languages that were outside the realm of traditionally classical canonical narratives, including Americana folk traditions. As more and more of the elements of that language began seeping into our musical style, we looked to weave bluegrass into the fabric of a classical concerto. Higdon’s own upbringing in Tennessee and her understanding of the musical traditions of the region truly brought this idea to reality.”

Higdon says:

“I knew the Time For Three guys a few years before we had the chance to work together; we crossed paths in the hallways at Curtis, where I taught, and I often heard them jamming in Rittenhouse Square. … [Concerto 4-3] was written over a three-month period after a session with Time For Three where they showed me their unique musical voices. This provided immense inspiration in tailoring a concerto befitting them, one that would highlight their playing, make sure they had the chance to do some improvisatory solos, and musically sing and dance in a way that reflects the fun they elicit in their performances. For this composer, that was pure joy.”

Letters for the Future marks a summation of TF3’s evolution to date. As the group says:

“This album is ‘us.’ It gives voice to our roots in the Western classical tradition; it embraces our innovation through various Americana musical languages; and it looks with us towards the future as we reach to the stars. It is our timeless time-capsule donation to the music world that we hope anyone can open and, in it, hear our voice as Time For Three.”

*Commissioning orchestras for Kevin Puts’s Contact are the Florida Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Sun Valley Music Festival, Colorado Symphony, and Spokane Symphony.

About Time For Three

Bonded by an uncommon blend of instruments and vocals, Charles Yang (violin), Nick Kendall (violin), and Ranaan Meyer (double bass) have found a unique voice of expression. To experience Time For Three live is to hear the various eras, styles, and traditions of Western music fold in on themselves and emerge anew in extraordinary fashion.

Time For Three is renowned for their charismatic and energetic performances, thrilling audiences across the world at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Musikverein, Schleswig-Holstein, and the Royal Albert Hall. They have been invited soloists with countless prestigious orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.  They have worked with conductors including Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph Eschenbach, Marin Alsop, and Leonard Slatkin. As tireless champions of contemporary classical composers, Time For Three has premiered original works commissioned for their ensemble, including concertos by Pulitzer Prize-winners William Bolcom, Jennifer Higdon, and Kevin Puts, as well as performer and composer Chris Brubeck.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

Time For Three: Letters for the Future track list
With The Philadelphia Orchestra, Xian Zhang, conductor
Available June 10 on Deutsche Grammophon (CD & digital)

Contact (Kevin Puts; cadenza by Nicolas Kendall, Ranaan Meyer, and Charles Yang)
1. The Call 8:09
2. Codes (Scherzo) 4:08
3. Contact 9:22
4. Convivium 7:37

Concerto 4-3 (Jennifer Higdon; cadenza by Nicolas Kendall, Ranaan Meyer, and Charles Yang)
1. The Shallows 9:06
2. Little River 8:06
3. Roaring Smokies 5:47

Adam Abeshouse, producer and engineer
David Lai, producer and A&R
Rick Jacobsohn, assistant engineer
Ina Marija Ubaite, product manager
Rachel Liss, project coordinator
Shaan Ramaprasad, project coordinator
Dave Ross, artist coordinator
Shervin Lainez, cover art photographer
Pete Checchia, session photographer
Joseph Giuffrida, graphic design
Recorded September 29–30, 2021 at Verizon Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Time For Three: summer engagements
July 14-15
“Summer with the Symphony”
Time For Three with SF Symphony
San Francisco Symphony / Paolo Bortolameolli
COPLAND: El Salón México
Kevin PUTS: Contact: Concerto for Two Violins, Bass, and Orchestra (San Francisco Symphony co-commission)
Johann STRAUSS, JR.: Overture to Die Fledermaus
Richard STRAUSS Suite from Der Rosenkavalier
July 14: Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco, CA)
July 15: Frost Amphitheater (Stanford, CA)

July 28
Saratoga Springs, NY
Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC)
The Philadelphia Orchestra / Erina Yashima
MAZZOLI: Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)
Kevin PUTS: Contact: Concerto for Two Violins, Bass, and Orchestra (SPAC co-commission)
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)

Aug 13
Sun Valley, ID
Sun Valley Pavilion
Sameer Patel, conductor
Alasdair Neale, conductor
Sun Valley Festival Orchestra
Kevin PUTS: Contact: Concerto for Two Violins, Bass, and Orchestra (Sun Valley Music Festival co-commission)
Gabriela Lena FRANK: Three Latin American Dances for Orchestra

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© 21C Media Group, May 2022


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