Piano trio knows the romantic score

The members of the Columbia Orchestra usually fill the stage for concerts, but a few times per season there also are chamber music concerts. Orchestra members get to shine in these smaller ensembles, and they also get to dip into the vast chamber music repertory.

This will be the case when the Columbia Orchestra Piano Trio performs a free concert of romantic music on Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia.

The orchestra's music director, Jason Love, puts down his baton and picks up a cello for this occasion. He'll be joined by two orchestra members: concertmaster Brenda Anna on violin, and Nancy Smith on piano.

Love says that when he's conducting the full orchestra, he is "trying to get 80 people to perform the same piece, but chamber music is so collaborative. It's not a dictator at the front of the room, but the interplay" between just a few musicians.

"For me, it's an opportunity to work with two other musicians who have interesting ideas," he adds.

Although going from the full orchestra to a chamber ensemble entails making such adjustments, it's something he does fairly often. Love still teaches cello, and he performs on it for concerts by other musical organizations.

The upcoming Columbia Orchestra Piano Trio concert features three pieces: the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia; Armenian composer Arno Babajanian's Piano Trio, which is not performed very often; and Dvorak's Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, for which the trio will be supplemented by two additional Columbia Orchestra members: Robin Strempek on viola and Paul Li on violin.

Love says that what unites these musical selections is that they are "three different plays on romanticism."

The Columbia Orchestra Piano Trio performs a free concert on Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia. Call 410-465-8777 or go to columbiaorchestra.org.

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