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The Sundance Trio Debut CD is Lively, Passionate and Inspired (Giovannetti, Moss, Smith)

In a celebration of musical sounds, The Sundance Trio’s Jed Moss invites us to listen to the innovative and striking sonorities of The Sundance Trio:

The Sundance Trio generally strives to perform and record new and unusual works by commissioning composers whose musical proclivities range from jazz to modern idioms.

Oboist Geralyn Giovannetti, Bassoonist Christian Smith and Pianist Jed Moss combine forces to render dynamic performances reveling in the poignant, melancholy, melodious and often jovial, rustic and even boisterous nature of their instruments.

I first heard The Sundance Trio in April, 2007. Sundance Trio Pianist Jed Moss shared with me one of the pieces that he, Oboist Geralyn Giovannetti and Bassoonist Christian Smith had just recorded for their premier CD and he wanted to know what I thought.

At the time, I remember thinking, “this is different”, and it was completely foreign to me. My previous exposure to ‘classical’ music was limited. Over the years, I had only listened to the popular works of Beethoven or Mozart, and had not become familiar with other composers’ works. Although The Trio of piano, bassoon and oboe was new to me, I was anxious to hear more and wanted to develop an appreciation for something outside of my comfort zone.

The Sundance Trio debut CD was recorded in the spring of 2007 and released in the late spring of 2009. In early 2009, I was fortunate to attend a performance by The Sundance Trio at The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), and was introduced by Jed Moss to Trio members Geralyn Giovannetti and Christian Smith.

Prior to their performance at the University, Moss, Giovannetti and Smith gave a Master Class to UNR’s oboe and bassoon students. A handful of courageous students stood in front of their classmates and individually performed a short piece for The Trio. After their performance, they were then personally instructed by Giovannetti or Smith.

Each student worked openly with Geralyn Giovannetti or Christian Smith as the BYU professors critiqued and complimented everything from their brand of reed or instrument to how they played each note to how to get a more effective sound out of their instrument.

During their instruction, Giovannetti and Smith demonstrated their own techniques with the oboe and bassoon, respectively, and showed how a musician could easily transition from a poor or weak sound to a magnificent and robust sound, simply by modifying finger placement or adjusting their embouchure.

During the Master Class, I learned about the intricacies of the instruments, what types of sounds each produce, and how the piano, oboe and bassoon complement each other. It was an intensive introduction to the oboe and bassoon, and I developed great respect for Geralyn Giovannetti, Christian Smith and Jed Moss as music educators and performers. I couldn’t wait to hear The Sundance Trio perform!

After the Master Class, Moss, Giovannetti and Smith performed 3-4 magnificent pieces for the 150 students and I felt enriched and inspired! My desire to develop an appreciation for a style of music and instruments fairly unknown to me had come to fruition. There in the auditorium with the music students 15 years younger than me, I had just received a priceless gift. My trip to the University of Nevada became a music education and somehow my education was tuition free!

It would be another six months before I would hear The Sundance Trio’s music again. Two years after I heard that first track and six month after hearing their live recital, their debut CD was released. And I loved it.

Since attending the Master Class and recital at UNR, I have attended a number of orchestral performances in Boston and I have listened to many more on the radio, Web and CDs. Now when I listen, I’m able to recognize the oboe, and even more challenging, the bassoon. I feel tickled when I hone in on a specific sound and can say, “Ah…that’s the oboe”, or “that’s bassoon!” Although, admittedly, I am having a little trouble with the English horn and trying to discern it from the two!

Orchestral music is new to me and I am just beginning my education. Every piece is fresh to these ears! Some I like, some I don’t really care for. But there is always something in every piece that I’m able to learn from, regardless of whether or not I make an immediate connection with it.

The Sundance Trio CD has been a grand education for me. The five pieces are quite varied, and different than what I’ve been listening to these past two years. I wanted to write an informed review about this CD but over the past few weeks I have found myself at a loss for words. I am not a musician and I do not possess a proper musical vocabulary. Articulating how I feel about a CD that has no spoken words is extremely difficult. I find that I can only write about how each piece makes me feel and hope that my words inspire others to want to learn more about The Sundance Trio and their music.

The Sundance Trio’s debut CD is inspiring. I want to learn more about trios. I want to learn more about what composers have written. And I want to challenge myself to continue to want to learn more.

The Sundance Trio’s CD’s five pieces are: Madeleine Dring’s Trio, Paul Angerer’s Chanson Gaillarde, Geoffrey Bush’s Trio, David Sargent’s Kaleidoscope, and Margaret Griebling-Haigh’s Trocadillos. Each composition has its ‘liner notes’, but I’m not at a point where I can read and fully understand and appreciate their meaning. For now, I want to listen to each piece and hear the movement changes, each instrumental solo, and how each piece is put together and understand their nuances.

I do have my favorites. I love to listen to the second movement of Geoffrey Bush’s Trio. I enjoy the perfection of the piano, oboe and bassoon sounding as one. Sometimes I find it hard to believe there are just three instruments. The second movement is mostly slow and a bit somber, and it is beautiful.

I also enjoy Track 12, Margaret Griebling-Haigh’s Trocadillos second movement. Another slow movement, I love the lonely feeling the piano emotes at the beginning. Later, the piano, oboe and bassoon become companions, sharing their solitude.

In June, The Sundance Trio recorded its second CD, which is expected to include the following works:

Peter Hope: Four Sketches for Oboe, Bassoon, Piano
Michael Head: Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano
Bill Douglas: Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano
Jenni Brandon: The Wildflower Trio for Oboe Bassoon and Piano

In addition to these works frequently performed by The Sundance Trio is Composer Malcolm Forsyth’s Lyric Essay for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano. Commissioned by The Barlow Endowment for Music Composition (supporter of The Sundance Trio), The Sundance Trio premiered Lyric Essay at the International Double Reed Society (IDRS) in 2008 and anticipates its inclusion on a future recording.

Some of these pieces were performed by The Sundance Trio at The University of Nevada earlier this year. The music is beautiful and I look forward to The Sundance Trio’s second CD!

The debut CD from The Sundance Trio is wonderful. It delivers the unexpected. If the unexpected is new to you, take some time and learn to appreciate its beauty. It is enriching, to be sure.

Betsy Hijazi’s can be found at

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