A Celestial Trio
1878—that’s the year it all started.
For those of us on the Hill, when we hear that date, we think of the opening year of the Miller School of Albemarle. But for aficionados of classical music, 1878 is significant for a different reason—that year marks the launch of the international career of the great Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak, with the world-wide success of his Slavonic Dances, Op. 46.
On Wednesday morning, May 1, Dvorak’s beautiful music danced through the towering halls of Old Main, as the Trio Céleste performed one of the best known of his chamber works, the Dumky Trio, Op. 90. The trio appeared at MSA thanks to the Tuesday Evening Concert Series and the efforts of its Executive Director, Karen Pellon. The trio consists of Kevin Kwan Loucks, pianist, Iryna Kechkovsky, violinist, and Ross Gasworth, cellist. Each a world-class soloist in his or her own right, they blended together perfectly to convey the passion of Dvorak’s piece, which draws deeply upon the power of Bohemian folk music.
That music miraculously transformed the foyer of Old Main into a miniature Carnegie Hall for the morning. The senior steps served as stadium seating and the old wooden floors around the school seal became home to front-row seats. Students crowded together to hear excerpts from both the Dvorak Trio and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s melancholy and moving Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50. All were entranced by this passionate music, but those who play the piano, violin, or cello were inspired to new heights.
The night before, the Trio Céleste performed in the Tuesday Evening Concert Series in the University of Virginia’s iconic Old Cabell Hall. The California-based trio is regarded as one of the most dynamic chamber music ensembles on the classical music scene today. The Trio’s performance kept the audience spellbound, and the final Tchaikovsky piano trio brought them to their feet in a roaring round of applause. University of Virginia Professor, Paul Cantor, the Vice-President of the series, commented: “When we booked the trio two years ago, we had never heard of them but the Dvorak CD they sent us showed signs of greatness. But until we heard them perform live, we had no idea of how truly great they are.”
The Tuesday Evening Concert Series has been one of the premier venues for classical chamber music for the past seventy years. It has brought some of the biggest names in classical music to Charlottesville and has engaged many rising stars in the field, like the Trio Céleste, at a formative stage in their careers.
Both the Trio Céleste and the Tuesday Evening Concert Series are committed to introducing youth to the joys of classical music, and the Miller School of Albemarle benefited from their generosity and talent.
The trio is ensemble-in-residence of Chamber Music | OC at Chapman University in Orange, California. The nonprofit Chamber Music | OC, co-founded by Krechkovsky and Loucks in 2012, promotes chamber music education through performance and community outreach. Its pre-college program for musicians ages 10 to 18 is the only pre-professional classical music program of its kind in Southern California.
Since 1995, the Tuesday Evening Concert Series has presented free children’s concerts to schools and home schooling groups throughout the region. In total, the Series has presented these concerts to over 60,000 students in the greater Charlottesville area.
And no students have been more inspired by these concerts than the group that were enchanted by the strains of Dvorak and Tchaikovsky on Wednesday. They now have two reasons to remember 1878.