April 25, 2016
A Brief History of the Montrose Trio

In the fall of 2011, the Tokyo String Quartet’s founding violist Kazuhide Isomura and long-standing 2nd violinist Kikuei Ikeda made the decision to retire from the quartet. 1st violinist Martin Beaver and cellist Clive Greensmith had no shortage of fine applicants auditioning for the positions of 2nd violin and viola, but after a great deal of thought, they decided that the Tokyo String Quartet’s extraordinary 44-year history would officially come to an end in July of 2013.


But what next? What could possibly match the depth and breadth of the string quartet repertoire and fulfill Martin and Clive’s desire to continue playing chamber music? They found their answer in the Tokyo String Quartet’s final months of touring. Their last guest pianist was Jon Kimura Parker, a frequent collaborator with the quartet for more than 25 years. A dressing room pre-concert chat turned to a serious conversation about playing trios, and shortly thereafter the commitment was made.


Given the realities of planning concert tours far in advance, Martin, Clive and Jackie assumed their first concert wouldn’t be for at least a full year. To their surprise, they suddenly found themselves with an imminent engagement: the Chamber Music Society of Detroit had had a cancellation, and their President Steve Wogaman jumped at the chance to present the new trio, in December of 2013.


This initial vote of confidence propelled the trio into action, and they planned their first program: the Haydn E Major Trio, Shostakovich E minor Trio, and the Mendelssohn D minor Trio. Given Martin and Clive’s new positions as Directors of the chamber music program at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, and Jackie’s position as Professor of Piano at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, rehearsals and logistics had to be planned carefully.


Only one question remained: what would they call themselves? After trying every conceivable name related to either composers or their patrons, or Japanese poetry, or musical puns, or the accurate but rather unwieldy “Parker/Beaver/Greensmith Trio,” their conversation happened to turn to another favorite subject, wine. One of Clive’s favorites, the great Bordeaux Chateau Montrose, resonated with Jackie, as Houston’s Arts district is known as “Montrose.” When Martin confirmed that he had grown up briefly in Winnipeg on Montrose Street, the name became official!


On December 7, 2013 the Montrose Trio gave its first concert in the Seligman Performing Arts Center in Detroit. Since then they have performed in New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Houston, Fort Worth, Portland, Eugene, Jacksonville, Durham, Buffalo, La Jolla, Montreal, Vancouver, and at the Hong Kong Chamber Music Festival. Further tours and recordings are in the works, with joyful anticipation of many years of making music together!

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