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On Center: Time for Three

by on January 29, 2015 3:15 PM

When Time for Three was getting its start, the trio called itself the world’s first classically trained garage band.

“The term really was something that we used to use. We try not to use it too much these days,” says Time for Three violinist Nick Kendall. “It was a way to describe who we are. It’s very difficult to describe what it is that we do in a live concert. Two violins and a double bass don’t sound very exciting, but what we do is so much more than the mere instruments that we are holding and expressing ourselves through. It was a term that referred to the way we put our music together, which was very much a departure from how classical music is put together.”

Performing music from Bach to its own arrangements of songs by the Beatles, U2, Kanye West, Coldplay, and Justin Timberlake, the trio, which makes its Penn State concert debut February 26 at Schwab Auditorium, defies classification.

“Time for Three is not a classical music group. We have our roots from classical training, but our output is a conduit for us to have a great time with each other … . It’s unexpected concerts that we present,” Kendall says. “The repertoire is different and new. It’s very audience friendly, but it also takes active listening to be at a concert. But we make that happen because the interaction while we’re playing is so visceral. We are ourselves on stage. Between songs we speak to the audience.”

The ensemble has performed more than 1,000 concerts at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, jazz clubs, European festivals, NFL games, and the Indianapolis 500.

Violinists Zach De Pue and Kendall and double bassist Ranaan Meyer played together for fun as students at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. De Pue and Kendall had a mutual affection for country and bluegrass fiddling. Meyer, who also composes works for the trio, introduced the violinists to his roots in jazz and improvisation.

While Time for Three might not qualify as a classical trio, it has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National and Indianapolis symphonies, and other classical ensembles.

The trio’s first commercial album, Three Fervent Travelers, remained in the top 10 on the Billboard crossover chart for almost a year. Time for Three, its first album for Universal Classics, came out in 2014. “Stronger,” the band’s hit YouTube antibullying video, has inspired countless students.

In November, the trio performed “Blame” for a tango-dancing couple on ABC-TV’s Dancing with the Stars.

“The level of production was just extraordinary,” Kendall says. “It was actually really, really easy. All we had to do was be ourselves and play well. Everything else just sort of happened for us. It was very powerful.”

At Schwab, the trio will announce its selections from the stage.

“We’re definitely going to play a few things off our latest album,” Kendall says. “But we’re also going to do a couple of these what we call mashups, which are blending or putting two distinct songs — one from the classical world and one from the pop world — together.”

The concert is likely to include a mashup of music by Katy Perry and Igor Stravinsky, Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man,” and some of the trio’s Gypsy repertoire.

Kendall says, “It’ll be a nice variety from new, middle, and old of Time for Three’s rep.”

Benson and Christine Lichtig and William Rabinowitz sponsor the presentation. WPSU is the media sponsor. For tickets or information, visit or phone (814) 863-0255.

John Mark Rafacz is the editorial manager of the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State.
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