The Merling Trio
The Merling Trio is recognized as one of today’s premier ensembles. A truly international trio, it brings together musicians from Polish, Japanese, and Dutch backgrounds. The Merling Trio has been hailed as a brilliantly distinguished group endowed with remarkable gifts of communication, magnificent precision, and an impeccable blend of sound. The trio made its New York debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1993, and was named a finalist for the Naumburg Foundation Chamber Music Award in 1994.
The Merling Trio has given numerous recitals throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Members of the Trio have performed with orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, and the South Carolina Philharmonic, under the baton of such notable conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Simon Rattle, and Christoph Eschenbach. Recent trio performances include concerts for the Lagerstrom Concerts Series at Caltech, the Texas Friends of Chamber Music Series, the Jewel Box Series in Chicago, the Charleston Chamber Music Society, Merkin Hall, and the Antioch College Professional Piano Series. Performances by the Merling Trio have been broadcast widely on television and radio, including WNYC, WFMT 98.7 in Chicago, Interlochen Public Radio, and Peachstate Public Radio. The 2016-17 season will include tours of Iowa, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, North Carolina, South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Illinois, and Minnesota, as well as the trio’s inaugural tour to China.
Several contemporary composers have written works for the Merling Trio, and in 1993, they commissioned and premiered C. Curtis-Smith’s Second Piano Trio. In February 1998, the trio returned to Carnegie Hall for a sold-out performance of a new work by Terry Winter-Owens, commissioned by the Merling Trio with a Commissioning Grant from the American Composers Forum. In 2003, the trio premiered Frank Proto’s Quartet for Piano and Strings with bassist Tom Knific at St. John’s Smith Square in London, England. The trio performed the complete piano trios of C. Curtis-Smith for a gala concert at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in 2010. The 2013 season saw a premiere of the trio’s newest commission, Piano Trio No. 2, from San Francisco composer Peter Scott Lewis.
In residence at the School of Music at Western Michigan University, members of the trio have also been faculty members at the Schlern International Music Festival and the ENCORE School for Strings. Renowned educators, their students hold positions in major orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the world. Festival appearances include the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Pensacola Summer Music Festival, the Skaneateles Festival, the Saugatuck Chamber Music Festival, and the Fontana Festival of Art and Music. Recent educational outreach activities include performances and master classes for the California Music Teachers Association, the Music Teachers National Association, the Hawaii International Arts and Humanities Conference, and the American String Teachers Association National Conference. Current summer festival positions for the trio include the Orfeo Music Festival in Italy, Cello an American Experience in Minnesota, and the Aria International Summer Academy in Massachusetts.
The Merling Trio has released a number of critically-acclaimed recordings. Their first CD, a collaboration with conductor Dennis Russell Davies, featured works of C. Curtis-Smith and was released by Albany Records in 1995. About the CD, Fanfare wrote, “The composer could not ask for better interpreters.” Piano Trio Classics included works by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, and Liszt and was released by Pamplin Records in 2001. About Centaur Records’ 2006 release of the trio’s recording of works by Piazzolla and Proto, the American Record Guide said, “The Merlings play with a properly stylistic balance between abandon and control. This is an unusual and beautifully played program.” Their most recent recording, “postcards in e”, features works of Shostakovich and Dvorak, and was issued on the MSR Classics label to rave reviews.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer said, “The players shaped a grand interpretation, fluent in rhythm and rich in romantic feeling.” The Grand Rapids Press has said, “The trio…delivered a standard of playing that is on par with some of the best known violin-cello-piano teams, captivating the audience through the immediacy and extraordinary sensitivity of its playing.” The London Musical Opinion declared that the Merling Trio “made a powerful impression, with unabashed romanticism and finesse.”
The Merling Trio takes its name from the Danish violin maker, Paul Merling. Currently, Mr. Uchimura performs on an Enrico Marchetti cello, made in Turin, Italy, in 1899. Ms. Knific’s violin, fashioned by Vincenzo Postiglione in Naples, Italy, dates from 1898.
Tom Knific, bass
Tom Knific has performed with many of the great jazz and classical artists of our time on tour and on record. They include Gene Bertoncini, Billy Hart, Randy Brecker, Dave Brubeck, Fred Hersch, Edward Simon, and others. He and Eric Marienthal co-led the “Dream Band” with Toots Thielemans, Kenny Werner and Harvey Mason in the first live interactive concert multi-cast over the Internet. As a classical artist, he has recorded with Pepe Romero, Andre Watts, Philippe Entremont, and the Merling Trio. He as appeared as a soloist with orchestras throughout the U.S. and has performed as principal bassist with orchestras and chamber orchestras in the U.S. and Europe. He has appeared at chamber music festivals throughout North America and Europe and is a founding member, bassist and composer for the contemporary music group, OPUS 21. Tom is professor of double bass and director of jazz studies at Western Michigan University, and is a visiting professor at The China Conservatory, Beijing. He has also taught at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Michigan State University, Cleveland Institute of Music, and has presented over 200 hundred master classes worldwide. He received the 2016 Musical America Top Professional and Innovators award and received the 2004 Down Beat magazine Achievement in Jazz Education award. Tom has written dozens of works in a variety of idioms and is published by Editions Delatour, Paris, and ISB Publications, Dallas. He is heard on over 30 CD’s including four solo projects. Tom is past president of The International Society of Bassists.