The Hartt School presents its popular trio-in-residence, Lions Gate Trio, on Wednesday, October 3, 7:30 PM, in Millard Auditorium, University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT. The Lions Gate Trio – violinist Katie Lansdale, pianist Florence Millet, and cellist Darrett Adkins – performs trio selections by Beethoven, Ravel, and Rebecca Clarke. Clarke’s work also is the focus of a multi-stage project for the Trio, including a special performance at an area women’s prison, which will unfold over the next several months.
The Lions Gate Trio recently received a grant from the University of Hartford’s WELFund (Women's Education and Leadership Fund) and now is immersed in a three-part project centered on the piano trio by Rebecca Clarke. This fall, they will present the piece to Hartt audiences and examine it in depth with Hartt students, and also will present the work, along with Clarke’s compelling life story, in a workshop at the York Correctional Institute, Connecticut's maximum security prison for women. Early next semester, the Trio will record a CD of works by Clarke, along with related trios by Ravel and Ives.
Clarke (1887-1979) was an English composer and violist who lived and worked in the US for many years. Though she faced great adversity, she was well trained and became an accomplished musician, and also one of the first-ever female professional orchestra players.
The Trio’s members each have a unique perspective on Clarke’s work and their bringing her work and story to the prison’s inmates. Adkins, the group’s cellist, sees this venture as an opportunity to build community. Lansdale has been drawn to explore the ways in which art can become even more vital to the human experience during times of oppression, deprivation, or crisis.
Lansdale noted, “Like my trio partners, I have always been drawn to the idea that music is for everyone, and that artistic expression speaks to what is human about all of us, regardless of training or background. That alone draws me to unusual situations in which to share music. We see over and over that sound moves people, regardless of familiarity with the musical experience. And there are times when music takes the listener – and the player – somewhere else, transcending the here and now.” These compelling ideas have helped drive the Trio throughout this process.
For Adkins, the experience is personal. His mother served for many years on his area’s parole board and then became Deputy Director of Community Corrections for the State of Washington. He shared part of this story: “The funny thing is that she hated prisons, but she loved her most important projects, which were Community Oriented Policing Stations and Women's work release programs. She felt that offenders need to be supported in their communities – that they needed meaningful work, and that the women, especially, needed to be with their families and their children.” At the same time, his parents were members of the Youth Symphony Board, and noted that very few of its musicians ended up in the correctional system. “Viewed in totality, my parents were building communities from both ends – the hopeful and proactive notion of young people making music in a vibrant artistic and social community, and helping those whose lives have taken turns for the worst and helping them re-integrate and participate meaningfully in their families and communities. We don't know exactly how, but perhaps through exposure to and interest in the arts, some of these women will find paths towards greater meaning in their personal missions to become more fully autonomous again, with the support of the complete community and even the corrections system. If our little trio can play part in that transformation, I will only be continuing in a very small way the work that my parents did when I was younger.”
Millet added, “…Rebecca Clarke's life story of overcoming great odds can offer a spark of inspiration, of belief, to those that connect with her story; it tells much about facing adversity, sustaining focus, and perseverance.”
“As for our project, we cannot know which inmates will respond in what way to the sounds of the music or to the story of Rebecca Clarke's troubled life,” said Lansdale, but they look forward to the potential positive impact their music and sharing may have.
The Lions Gate Trio, an internationally acclaimed ensemble in both the United States and Europe, enjoys a combination of performing, recording, and working with young musicians in educational settings. In addition to their diverse and acclaimed solo performances and other collaborations, each member of the Lions Gate Trio is a highly respected teacher, collectively holding faculty positions at the Cologne Hochschule in Wuppertal, Germany; The Juilliard School; Oberlin Conservatory of Music; and The Hartt School. Having served residencies at Tanglewood, Yale University, and the University of Pittsburgh, the Lions Gate Trio currently is the trio-in-residence both at The Hartt School and at the Fairfield Library in Connecticut.
Pictured (L to R): Florence Millet, piano; Katie Lansdale, violin; and Darrett Adkins, cello