Who says that garage bands have to be high-school or college kids grinding out crude, three-chord rock songs? Time for Three, a self-proclaimed “classically trained garage band” formed by three students at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, subverts the stereotype of every garage band you’ve ever known, playing beautiful, intricate crossover classical music with two violins and a double bass.
Performing a repertoire of everything from Brahms to U2 to Kanye West, these fresh faces are helping young people discover classical instrumentation, having performed everywhere from the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall to San Francisco’s Club Yoshi. They’ll be at the Mizner Park Amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. Sunday as one of the most exciting acts at Festival of the Arts Boca (tickets are $20 to $85; call 866/571-ARTS).
But before that, these three musical phenoms tackled three questions from us.
1. What is your favorite composition to perform, and why?
Ranaan Myer, double bass: I don’t really have a favorite composition to perform, because there are so many great ones, and I feel strongly about each of them. But right now, if i had to choose, I guess my favorite piece would be “Chaconne in Winter” (arranged by Steve Hackman and Time for Three) based on a 47-minute long jam session, combined with selections and elements from Bon Iver’s “Calgary” and reduced to around eight minutes.
Zachary de Pue, violin: I have to agree. “Chaconne in Winter” bridges Bach’s solo piece with Bon Iver’s “Calgary” and is just epically satisfying and fun to play.
Nicholas Kendall, violin: The Chaconne is the most gratifying to perform. Not only is the Chaconne one of the most powerful peices written by bach, but it’s also one of the most challenging and rich with musical content.
2. You’re known as a trio that fuses many disparate styles into an eclectic final product, re-arranging music from across the genre spectrum. What song or songs most surprised you in their ability to translate into a violin-and-bass arrangement?
Ranaan Myer: Everything. Honestly, in the group I think I’m the one who is usually the most optimistic about how things are going to turn out translated into our style. I’m generally not surprised when things work out, although the rest of TF3 usually has more hesitations about the material we choose. Some of my suggestions send up red flags with the rest of the group.
Our newest arrangement is a mash-up between “Cry Me A River” by Justin Timberlake and Barber’s Addagio for String. I really didn’t see how Timberlake’s song was going to be affected by our group’s arrangement, but as it turns out it did, and it was a major (pleasant) surprise to see the outcome.
Zachary de Pue: One of the first arrangements we made was of the Beatles tune “Blackbird.” The realization that a song by a rock band could translate as well as this does for our setting opened our eyes and minds to a world of musical possibilities.
Nicholas Kendall: With every song or arrangement we decide to do, there is always thought that goes into deciding if our “voice,” which is very uneque in instrumentation, would work for what we are trying to convey musically. We knew that our arrangement of “Hide and Seek” would fit well for us, but just how comfortable and full we have been able to make it exceeded our expectations in a huge way!
3. How important is it that young people learn to play instruments like yours, rather than, say, guitar and drums?
Ranaan Myer: It’s not more important, to me, what instrument people choose to play, or even if they play at all, but I will say that playing an instrument poses challenges to any individuals’ minds that any other art form or liberal art may not pose. The benefit of playing an instrument is extremely valuable in this sense.
Zachary de Pue: I think any type of instrumental discipline is key to the development of any human being, really. The aural skills, hand-eye coordination, etc., all go into making and creating sounds that are pleasing. Any and all noise makers are encouraged!
Nicholas Kendall: I’d say we encourage every young person to play anything. The gift of music in one’s life is a vast and endless resource for self-confidence-building and connecting with creativity. To play the violin or bass, (or both! Why not?!) would mean access to some of the most incredible musical literature ever written. The vast scope of compositions out there can fill the human soul for a lifetime!