Arts & Culture

‘Triple’ play highlights Wichita Symphony season-opener

The Claremont Trio — from left, Emily Bruskin, Andrea Lam and Julia Bruskin — perform next weekend with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
The Claremont Trio — from left, Emily Bruskin, Andrea Lam and Julia Bruskin — perform next weekend with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Courtesy photo

One of the members of a trio playing with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra calls the piece she’s playing “Beethoven in a good mood.”

“It’s just a sunny, celebratory piece,” Emily Bruskin, violinist with the Claremont Trio, said of the “Triple” concerto for violin, cello and piano. “It’s a lot of fun to play.”

Kicking off the Wichita Symphony’s 73rd season next weekend, the “Triple” is a “spectacle in certain respects,” according to conductor and music director Daniel Hege.

“It’s rare when you have such a bona fide concerto part for each instrument — violin, cello and piano — out in front of the orchestra,” said Hege, who is beginning his seventh season with the Wichita Symphony. “It’s just beautiful and sublime, but it doesn’t put a lot of burden on the listener like another profound work might.”

The New York City-based Claremont Trio, which also includes Bruskin’s twin sister, Julia, on cello and pianist Andrea Lam, released a recording of the “Triple” with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra in 2012.

“It’s fun because it has some of the heroic interplay between soloists and orchestra, but it also has an intimate conversations of a piano trio with just three instruments,” Bruskin said. “No matter how many times I’ve performed it, I think it’s got some showy, fun things as well as some beautiful melodies. A lot of excitement builds with three soloists and the orchestra together.”

The “Triple” has long been a part of the repertoire for the trio, which the three Juilliard School students formed in 1999.

Bruskin said the piece has evolved for the trio over the years.

“Every piece we play sort of develops and matures over time. If it got too static, it wouldn’t be interesting anymore,” she said. “It always comes out differently, because of the different personalities and the different performers.”

The Claremont Trio, which has two recordings due to be released before next spring, is part of an all-Beethoven program for the symphony.

Hege said this is the second time in his tenure that an all-Beethoven program has been featured.

“There are not too many composers in the orchestral canon who could endure being the only composer on the program,” he said, adding Tchaikovsky to the short list.

“What you have to do if you have only one composer on the program is have enough variety within the works that you choose, so it feels like a varied program,” Hege added. “With others, a one-composer program can feel rather monochromatic.”

Beethoven “just excels in so many ways in every genre that he composed that you can really find a veritable smorgasbord of great works that go great together.”

The buffet that Hege has assembled is capped off for the second act with Beethoven’s “Eroica,” which the Wichita Symphony has not performed since 2009.

“‘Eroica’ quickly rose to the top of the list as one of the mainstay works in the repertoire that just hasn’t been played very frequently,” he said. “It is the blinding light that changed classical music forever.”

Hege says that “Eroica” is a “piece I grew up with,” first drawn to it as a listener.

“As a conductor, I’m fascinated — ever so fascinated,” he said. “Every time I conduct the piece I find something new in it. New little dissonance here or there. It’s like you’re plumbing the depths that you’ll never quite learn.”

The concert opens with Beethoven’s “Prometheus Overture,” which the Wichita Symphony has not performed since 1988.

“It’s on the short side, but it packs a lot of punch,” Hege said. “It’s a little lighter, more fleet-footed, something that goes off into the house without any ponderousness.”

The concert will be the first time the Claremont Trio, named for an avenue in New York City, is performing in Wichita. Bruskin performs on a 1795 Lupot violin, while her twin plays an 1849 J.B. Vuillaume cello, both from France.

Bruskin and her sister have been playing together since preschoolers, and were a part of their family’s chamber music group.

“I think we’re definitely on the same wavelength in a certain way, personally and musically. We’re just very, very close always,” she said of performing with her sister. “All three of us are really best friends and know each other inside out. I’m tremendously lucky to find these two people to work with.

“We get inside each other’s heads in a fairly unique way,” she added.

Wichita Symphony Orchestra

Featuring: The Claremont Trio

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9

Where: Century II Concert Hall, 225 W. Douglas Ave., Wichita

What: An all-Beethoven concert to kick off the symphony’s 73rd season

Admission: $20 to $65

Information: Tickets are available at, by phone at 316-267-5259, or in person at the box office on the second floor of Century II. Box office hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.