Southeast Missouri State University student publication

‘The Merling Trio’ for Sundays at Three

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Merling Trio, a Michigan-based music group, will return to Southeast’s River Campus on Oct. 15 for the “Sundays at Three” Series.

Though most classical recitals are mostly comprised pre-20th-century works, The Merling Trio has balanced their program for Sunday equally between classical and romantic works, and well-known jazz standards and pieces from “The Great American Songbook”. Great American Songbook is a collection of american-era standards from the 1930s through the 1970s.

And, with only three instrumentalists in the group — piano, violin and cello — many pieces in the program have been arranged especially for them.

Susan Uchimura, the pianist in the trio, said they’ll begin their program with several Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms. The Hungarian Dances were Brahms’ best selling works during his lifetime, but they were originally written only for solo or two pianos, later for orchestra, and not written for combinations like the Merling Trio.

“It was a very rare arrangement that we were able to obtain from the library at Indiana University,” she said.

She also said the Brahms dances are typically popular with audiences, and that people tend to recognize them.

The program will continue with tangos by the Argentinian Astor Piazzolla, which have been arranged by the Merling Trio’s cellist, Bruce Uchimura.

Composers Henry Mancini and Brian Wilson also appear amid the first half of the program. “Moon River” and “God Only Knows” were arranged for the group by Gene Knific, the son of The Merling Trio’s violinist, Renata Artman Knific.

“Dvorak’s Piano Trio in E-minor, Op. 90,” also known as the “Dunky” trio, will fill most of the second half.

They’ll then close the program with a Gershwin classic, “Someone To Watch Over Me,” and an arrangement of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Uchimura said they are huge fans of american-era music.

“We’ve been wanting for quite some time to bring these to our audience members,” Uchimura said.

They’ll also be recording 12 selections from that collection for an album titled, “The Merling Trio Performs the Great American Songbook,” to be released next spring.

In terms of a typical performance by the group, Uchimura said they try to make it an interactive experience for listeners.

“We make it a point of not just playing, but doing a lot of talking from the stage. We’ll give the audience a lot of background on the piece, composers, ourselves. By the end of the program, the audience will get to know us as people, not performers,” she said.

Uchimura said no audience is just alike, and each time is a fresh, new experience. She also explained the specialty behind a live performance.

“You think, ‘Why can’t I watch it on YouTube, or on a recording?’ But it’s the fact that it will never happen that way again, after you perform it once,” she said.

She said it’s their second time back on campus, and that Sundays at Three is a great series to be playing for.

“We very much enjoy that performance hall, I remember it well. It’s a great place to play chamber music,” she said.

The Merling Trio will perform at 3 p.m. Oct. 15 in Shuck Recital Hall in the Seminary Building at the River Campus. Students can get tickets for $3 with their student ID before the recital. To find recordings of some of their works, The Merling Trio has recorded several CD’s, and their music can be found on iTunes.