From Bach to The Beatles, Time for Three's artistic terrain truly stretches conventional classical music standards. Organically fusing a multitude of influences, styles and genres, the three-piece consistently cooks up a splendid concoction of tunes, whether they find themselves playing a crowded club or Carnegie Hall.
"You have these chefs who take elements of Haitian cooking but then also the elements of French cooking. You'll distinguish the two elements, but they're melding it together into something new -- a new dish that is surprising and a lot of times quite pleasing," violinist Nick Kendall explains. "I think that's really what we've discovered we are. The kinds of musical experiences Time for Three enjoys creating are ones that are an infusion of all of the myriad of different experiences that we enjoy and take in, through the lens and through the craft of being classically trained."
The foundation for Tf3's formation derives from jam sessions that Kendall, Zach De Pue (violin) and Ranaan Meyer (double bass) would have while studying at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute for Music years ago.
"It was really by accident," Kendall says. "There was this amazing chemistry between Ranaan, Zach and myself. It was literally three dudes that found a common interest."
The trio began to be hired out for parties in the area, eventually realizing they should pursue the project more seriously after an organic progression of events. Since then, they've gone through several evolutions, according to Kendall, from thinking of themselves as a fiddle band to "a group that was working with famous composers to progress the art form of concerto writing.”
In the last five years, however, Tf3’s interests have shifted again, now focusing more on boundless music fusion rooted in virtuosity.
"We're part of a new generation of musicians who are playing these instruments that are associated with one very particular kind of music-making (classical music), but putting it directly in a context that is unexpected and showing how these instruments can be communicators in a much more broad outreach than maybe it was associated with in the past," Kendall says.
In 2007, De Pue was named concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, prompting conversations about his vivacious trio as well. This eventually led to a three-year residency beginning in 2009, where Tf3 was involved at the community level and also began curating the symphony's Happy Hour events -- a series of concerts directed toward drawing younger audiences to ISO functions.
Pleased with Tf3's innovative efforts, the ISO decided to extend and expand its contract with the trio in 2012. Under the new terms, Tf3 now spends 14 weeks per season with the orchestra, with responsibilities that include programming, arranging and performing concerts, education, fundraising, PR and community outreach.
ISO President and CEO Gary Ginstling explains, "We really want to create a different kind of a vibe than our standard concert experience, so they're really in charge of creating that vibe and creating the musical journey that they want to take the audience on."
According to Ginstling, the trio's work with the symphony serves three primary purposes.
"One is to reach new and broader audiences in a unique and engaging way," he says. "Number two is to change the perception that's out there of what a symphony orchestra is and kind of fight back against that -- that it can be fun and social and engaging, and not stuffy, which I think is a misperception that's out there. And [third] to really think innovatively about how we view this organism of the symphony orchestra in the 21st century."
In curating the ISO's Happy Hour events, the trio has teamed with artists from a vast array of genres, shedding light on the unique musical interests of each individual member. When Tf3 began work on its most recent self-titled release, the trio continued to hold to this spirit, even inviting past Happy Hour collaborators, such as Indy folk pop sisters Lily & Madeleine and internationally recognized singer/songwriter Joshua Radin, to help them out with the album.
"When thinking about what kind of experience we wanted to create with this album, we kind of wanted to mimic what we've learned and what we've done in the past five years -- through the experiences we've created with the Indianapolis Symphony," Kendall reflects.
In looking at what the group has been able to accomplish over the years, Kendall is particularly proud of Tf3's versatile virtuosity, which is ultimately driven by the energy created between its three provocative players.
"I think one of the things that I find pleasing is that we are truly playing in nonclassical music environments, yet with each experience and each place we play, we are still staying true to the way we spin our sound and the way we phrase -- accessing everything that we've learned," Kendall says. "We are adapting to any circumstance, yet not changing who we are."
So whether it's at the Hilbert Circle Theatre or the Indy 500, Tf3 plans to continue defying expectations, using each other's exuberant chemistry to share their love of music with audiences of all musical appetites.
Time for Three has upcoming performances with the symphony on July 11 and 12, in addition to a free in-store performance at Indy CD & Vinyl on July 13. The trio's next ISO Happy Hour (the last one in this summer's series) event takes place on July 17.