D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joins Kojo and Tom Sherwood in studio.
They’ve been described as a classically trained trio with a garage band mentality. With two violins and a double bass, they bend genres, incorporating jazz, pop and bluegrass into their music. We hear from Time for Three, young musicians who aim to introduce their distinctive classical sound to new audiences.
- Nick Kendall Violinist, Time for Three; Artist in Residence, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
- Zach De Pue Violinist, Time for Three; Artist in Residence, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
- Ranaan Meyer Double Bass player, Time for Three; Composer; teacher; Artist in Residence, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Video From Inside The Studio
Time for Three performs their original song, “Banjo Love.” Double bass player Ranaan Meyer says he was inspired to compose the piece while imagining what acclaimed banjo player Bela Fleck would do if confronted with the world’s largest banjo.
Time for Three plays a rendition of Mumford & Son’s hit song, “Little Lion Man.”
Time For Three performing ‘Stronger’, an arrangement of Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’ and Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ and ‘Nightvision’
We are Time for Three and this is our story — the story of so many kids who every day face challenges to who they are and who they want to be: their dreams, their ambitions, their identity. This video is for you guys. Be strong. Stick with it. We did, and we are stronger for it.
Presented in partnership with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.
Selection of Time for Three’s Live Footage
Cover of ‘Little Lion Man’ by Mumford & Sons
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThey've been described as a classically trained trio with a garage band mentality. They are two violinists and a double bass player. But what they play strays far from Bach and Beethoven. They might jump into a mash-up of Stravinsky with a Katy Perry song or their own arrangement of a Leonard Cohen classic. The group is also fans of bluegrass, jazz, rock and gospel, and you'll hear all of those in their genre-bending sound.
MR. KOJO NNAMDITheir goal: nothing less than introducing classical music to a new audience. The band is Time for Three, a classical jam band. Nicholas or Nick Kendall is a violinist with the trio. He is a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra and the Dryden String Quartet. Nick Kendall, thank you for joining us.
MR. NICK KENDALLIt's great to be here.
NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Ranaan Meyer. He plays double bass. He's also a teacher and composer. Ranaan Meyer, thank you for joining us.
MR. RANAAN MEYERMy pleasure.
NNAMDIAnd Zachary or Zach De Pue plays violin. He is also concert master of the Indianapolis Symphony. Zach De Pue, thank you for joining us.
MR. ZACH DE PUEIt's great to be here.
NNAMDIAnd the trio are also artists in residence with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. You'll be hearing them play very shortly, but I'd like to talk a little bit with them first. Nick, I attempted to convey a sense of what you all do, but I like to hear how you describe your music.
KENDALLWell, Kojo, I just want to say it's an honor to be here. I think for the three of us, music is a way to communicate. Music, as a language, is a way to communicate between the three of us. It's not necessarily the fact that there's two violins and a double bass, but we use the language of music to have a great time, to -- and to also share a reciprocal relationship, a reciprocal energy with whoever may be listening to us.
KENDALLAnd I think for us to be able to play in front of orchestras in these incredible halls, acoustic halls, and to feel all of those -- all of that energy right up between the three of us on stage is really exciting for us, and we love that energy. And it drives and motivates us to do what we do.
NNAMDIIn your case, I should be saying welcome home because you're this hood.
KENDALLThat's right. It is a homecoming for me.
NNAMDIRanaan, you don't necessarily see classical training as a detour. What does classical music, in your view, have to do with other genres?
MEYERWell, it's a tradition. Classical music has been around, obviously, for hundreds of years, and it evolved as an art form. And then, of course, jazz is a -- is not as quite as seasoned, but it has had the same effect pushing through different genres within the genre. I think it's an incredible thing when music can stand the test of time and then also really evolve through it.
MEYERWe look at classical music like that. Just like Paganini was doing at the turn of the century into the 1900s, composing and playing and doing that in a virtuosic way and evolving the art form, that's something that we take great pride in. We're still trying to push it forward as well.
NNAMDINick, how did you three begin playing together?
KENDALLI just met the guys actually, you know?
NNAMDIYeah, walking into the studio.
KENDALLYeah. Exactly. No, we met at the Curtis Institute of Music, which is in Philadelphia. It's a classical music conservatory. And actually, back then when we were all students, we were the only ones predominantly having these jam sessions after an orchestra rehearsal.
KENDALLBut actually it's very exciting, like Ranaan was saying, the art form has evolved because now if you go back to Curtis, you have musicians who are experimenting and the student body, we're used that. And also the teachers and faculty kind of encouraging this creativity based on this tradition. So that's how we met, and it was just for fun at first and now 13 years later, this is one of the things we do.
NNAMDIZach, why two violins and a double bass?
PUEThat's completely an accident. Like Nick was saying, it really was about the three personalities being willing to jam together. You sort of find each other when after you're done with the Moller symphony rehearsal, or Bruckner symphony three hours, you look around the room, and everybody's packing up. And there are a couple of guys that look unsatisfied or at least that their psi level is very high, and they need to release.
PUESo we all get together. We -- there are a few of us, actually, the three of us and couple of other friends. But the three of us gravitated to each other personality wise and enjoying and having a good time together.
NNAMDIAnd, Ranaan, the story of how Time for Three came out of those jam sessions that Nick talked about is a good one that apparently happened in Philadelphia one night.
MEYEROh, yes. The story about the power outage. Zach and I were playing in the Philadelphia Orchestra as part of the orchestra at the Mann Music Center, which is the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra -- one of the summer homes now. And there was a big storm, and we had an opportunity to go out on stage, one microphone that was working and one light that was working, an emergency breaker light at the center of the stage.
MEYERSo the president went out there and asked everybody to keep really quiet because he had two musicians that were willing and able to entertain while they try to figure out this power outage circumstance. So Zach and I sort of seized the opportunity and went out there and played for 20 minutes, and the crowd liked it enough to ask us back for another 20 minutes.
MEYERAs soon as we were done playing, the lights went back on, but they had already excused the orchestra. So the orchestra was going to play Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with full course and everything. It was a big project. And the audience left after 45 minutes of hearing two guys play. Unfortunately, Nick couldn't be there. He was at the Marlboro Music Festival and -- in Vermont. And so it was just two out of three that particular time but it led to a whole bunch of other stuff.
NNAMDIBut it's what led to eventually Time for Three coming together. But enough of this talk. Let's hear them.
NNAMDILet's hear a little bit about what you do or of what you do.
NNAMDITF3 performing "Banjo Love." Ranaan, it's my understanding that that is a composition of yours. Tell us a little bit about it.
MEYER"Banjo Love." It's called "Banjo Love" because I, first of all, have an affection to the artist Bela Fleck. Actually, we all do.
NNAMDIHe has also graced our studio, yes.
MEYERAnd a lot of times as a musician/composer, I find myself walking my way into my studio, and I'll see my instrument on its side, and I start just sort of dreaming or using my imagination. In this particular day, I saw my instrument on its side, and I was thinking, what if that was the world's largest banjo? And I imagined what Bela Fleck would do with the world's largest banjo as opposed to a beached whale, which is what I usually think of when I see the instrument lying on the side. And that's when that song came to be.
NNAMDIYou all play classical instruments, but not always in a way that they are even recognizable in the music. What are you trying to do with the arrangements?
PUEI don't know...
PUE...if we're trying to do anything other than find ways to get what's in our minds out to the listener. We have a vibe in different arrangements, different pieces that we're really -- we get ideas and colors in our minds, and it really becomes about -- you know, painters have their primary colors, but they have a certain color in their mind.
PUEAnd they continue to mix and mix and try different things to get that perfect color. And, you know, although these are, you know, of sound box with strings, there's a lot of potential color to get out of the instrument. So -- and we just -- I think we just open the door to being willing and wanting to be able to express ourselves in that way.
NNAMDIYou get color. You make my heart feel warm. You put a smile on my face.
NNAMDINick, you have a particular love for bluegrass. What is it about that genre that attracts you?
KENDALLWell, here's the thing about that. See, growing up here in the D.C. area -- I grew up in...
KENDALL...Silver Spring -- it was WAMU 88.5 that has the only bluegrass station. So my first introduction to bluegrass music was just rolling in the car, going to school. Actually, it was on the weekend. It was on Sunday. But, seriously, that's how I got into that. And the sound and vibrancy of that art form and that tradition, and I think it's just the -- everything from the rhythm, the tonalities.
KENDALLIt just sparkled. That's all I remember. It just -- it sparkled, and it was incredible to hear that. And I -- as a young kid, you know, my first memories of playing the violin was through games and using my imagination. And so it just -- it lit something in my mind and my musical ear. So it was because of this place.
NNAMDIGlad we could make a contribution to your life. Zach, it's my understanding you also play the mandolin.
PUEI dabble, but I would never do it in front of people, especially with Chris Thile hanging out there nowadays. I leave mandolin playing to the experts, but I do enjoy it. I grew up with three older brothers that all play the violin, and we also play guitar, mandolin. All -- did I say mandolin? We all play the violin, excuse me. And we also dabbled on guitar and mandolin to back each other up on fiddle tunes in fiddle contests while we were growing up.
NNAMDIBut, Ranaan, playing bluegrass would seem the very antithesis of how you would play a classical instrument -- controlled, formal playing of classical. How do you reconcile that with bluegrass?
MEYERWell, it's just all music to us. You know, we just...
MEYERWe love bringing it all together, you know? You may consider us something like Switzerland, you know?
MEYERWe love it all. And like Nick was saying at the beginning, music is a language to us, and they're all just different languages, you know? But they -- you got to say hi, you got to say bye in all languages.
NNAMDINick, you are also artist-in-residence at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. What does that entail?
KENDALLWell, it's been an incredible four years. I think, as a group -- you know, online, at least -- most of our fans and followers are people who normally don't go to classical music concerts. And, you know, the conversation right now with institutions that are arts-related in their communities, Indianapolis Symphony was having that conversation about how do we relate to our community, the Indianapolis community and the state of Indiana, as a whole.
KENDALLSo it was really they invited us to come and collaborate, and it's -- it really does feel like a collaboration with the musicians onstage, the orchestra, the music director and the administration that -- it's just been a learning curve for us.
KENDALLBut through that learning curve, we really figured out the challenges that arts are facing together, and in a laboratory sort of way, how can Time for Three and the Indianapolis Symphony as a whole work together to create programming that is about the community, that's, you know, both inviting the community into a space that they recognize, but then taking them on a journey that they may have not been expecting, but also how can the institution get out into the community.
KENDALLSo I think it's very reciprocal. And I think with our energy and the spirit from how we view music -- Time for Three, that is -- I think it's been a really wonderful way of realizing a direction that an institution like the Indianapolis Symphony can relate to its audience and the community.
NNAMDIAnd in the community is very important because classical music has a reputation as being somewhat formal. Some people even consider it elitist and even the venues where it's placed. But you shake that all up, Zach. Where has TF3, Time for Three, performed?
PUEGosh, where have we performed? We've done anything...
NNAMDII guess it's easier to say, where have you not performed?
PUEWhere have we not performed? We haven't performed on an airplane, although we've been asked, I think, to play on an airplane. But...
NNAMDIThat would be amazing.
PUEWell, the bass is usually underneath the airplane, so that's always a drag.
NNAMDIOh, this is true.
PUEBut -- actually, I have personally played on an airplane for the pilots, but that's just -- that's me. You know, we've performed anywhere from Carnegie Hall to opening for k.d. lang. We've collaborated with artists like Branford Marsalis, orchestras from the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, to the Indianapolis Symphony. We...
PUEIndy 500. We've played the national anthem at a NFL game, at a NBA game. Pacers-Heat, I remember that. That was a great game too. We've played a lot of different places. And anywhere from the national anthem to jamming with bluegrass musicians and learning from them to playing a concerto, like we're doing this weekend with the Baltimore Symphony by Jennifer Higdon, which is a formal classical art piece, if you will, that's sort of is a representation through Jennifer's eyes of Americana music, which is a lot of fun for us, and we're taking that to Carnegie.
NNAMDII was going to ask you about that, but you answered it already. So let met just tell our audience, Time for Three is playing tonight at the Music Center at Strathmore, North Bethesda, Md., at 8 p.m. in concert, conducted by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's Marin Alsop. Saturday, May 4, they're performing in Baltimore at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 8 p.m. You can find more information at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's website.
NNAMDIAnd there's a link to our website, kojoshow.org. Time for another song, gentlemen, "Little Lion Man" by Mumford & Sons. Can we hear that? Work it.
NNAMDIYeah. "Little Lion Man" by TF3. Does this every have to end?
NNAMDIDoes this -- can we just go on all day with this? But I guess we do have to move on. Nick Kendall, I mentioned earlier that you grew up in this area, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Waldorf School in Bethesda. You had a band here in D.C., a trash-can drumming group. But the path has not always been a straight or easy one for you. Can you talk about the music video you did call "Stronger?"
KENDALLI'm glad you brought that up. All three of us -- well, this comes because as a band, you know, we needed to come up with a music video. But the very important -- that whatever the subject matter of the video -- sorry, I'm out of breath. The subject matter of the video was sincere to us in some way. And it -- we just kind of fell upon the idea by accident, but it really found a place within the three of us, of an experience of being ridiculed when we're younger, bullied, picked on for just being different.
KENDALLAnd a lot of times it had to do with playing an instrument. So we came up with the idea through Kickstarter, sourcing, funding from our fans to make a music video about the very subject. And we invited everybody to go to TF3 "Stronger," TF3 is all spelled out, on YouTube and check it out. But there's a message that we'd like to be part of. We believe that if there is more opportunities for kids and young people in their formative years to be creative as an outlet then maybe that would help solve some of the issues that we experienced personally.
NNAMDIAnd you can see a link to that video at our website, kojoshow.org. Zach, it's my understanding that you also do outreach at schools across the country. What do you tell kids?
PUEYeah. We -- actually, we tell kids to be creative and define what they love to do and to do is passionately as long it doesn't hurt anybody and as long as it's ethical. They should really find what they're passionate about. And it's OK if it's different from the person next to you. You might feel like you want to be a writer.
PUEYou might feel like you want to be a scientist. You might want to be a violinist. All of these things that as adults we become very aware of how cool all of them can be, but we love to message the kids that they're allowed to explore all those areas freely and not be apologetic for that.
NNAMDIZach De Pue plays violin with the trio you've been listening, the Time for Three. He's also concert master of the Indianapolis Symphony. Zach, thank you so much for joining us.
PUEKojo, thank you so much.
NNAMDIRanaan Meyer plays double bass with the trio. He's also a teacher and composer. Ranaan, thank you for joining us.
MEYERWhat fun. Thank you.
NNAMDIAnd Nicholas or Nick Kendall is a violinist. He's also a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra and the Dryden String Quartet. Nick, thank you for joining us, and welcome back home.
KENDALLIt's a pleasure and honor. Thank you so much, Kojo.
NNAMDIThe trio are also artist in residence with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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