Meet the Music Makers: Trio Céleste

In conversation with Kevin Kwan Loucks, pianist of Trio Céleste:

UChicago Presents: How did you and the other members of Trio Céleste first come to play together?

Kevin Kwan Loucks: Iryna and Ross actually played together in graduate school at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and they were friends for many years. Iryna and I met at a music festival in Italy, where we were scheduled to play with one another. She mentioned that she had played with this wonderful, talented cellist named Ross who she knew from the Cleveland Institute. So we got together and played, and from first note, it was it was so clear that there was a good chemistry and that our personalities really aligned.

UCP: I also understand that the origins of the group are somewhat tied to the group's name. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

KKL: The first time that we played together, we were in New York and we had just finished a reading at Juilliard, and the reading had gone great. When we walked outside, there was this enormous Harvest Moon, and we had read that it was the largest Harvest Moon to occur in the past 20 years. It was a celestial experience that night, like a big event, so we thought it was appropriate to name ourselves after that after that event.

UCP: It seems like the there's a historical through line to the works you've chosen, and a theme of tribute seems to tie into each piece. Can you tell me a little bit more about this particular program and what went into selecting it?

KKL: It’s an exciting program to play, and we feel that this program contains the best of what classical music has offer. For instance, the Jalbert piece – the first movement is highly rhythmic, a real tour de force. It's really exciting to listen to. And the second movement, as you said, is a tribute, and it's absolutely beautiful; it feels very much like Messiaen, and it's one of our favorite works that play. Pierre has written numerous things for piano trio, but this is absolutely one of our favorites and one of the first things that introduced us to him.

The Rachmaninoff trio was written when he was only student. It’s highly virtuosic, but what's so great about it is it's pure Rachmaninoff. The themes are very passionate and very beautiful, turbulent at times, and it's an extended first movement. There are a lot of similarities, actually, between the first movements of the Rachmaninoff and the Tchaikovsky. They're both really extended long-forms, and both end with a funeral march, so there's been a lot of comparisons drawn between the two. Rachmaninoff certainly knew of Tchaikovsky at the time. That piece is really wonderful, and it seems people really love it too, so we're happy to be presenting it.