The Thoreau Piano Trio
"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
Henry David Thoreau, in Walden
Powerful performances and imaginative programs are hallmarks of the Thoreau Piano Trio.
Three internationally acclaimed artists, with concert appearances on four continents and numerous accolades including a Grammy nomination, formed the Thoreau Piano Trio in 2011 during a philosophical backstage conversation at a music festival in Vermont.
Drawn together by a shared spirit in keeping with the convictions of their namesake – New England’s maverick writer, thinker and naturalist Henry David Thoreau – violinist Susan Jensen, cellist Darry Dolezal and pianist Paul Jacobs created the Thoreau Piano Trio with a mission to cut through tradition and preconception, transform conventional viewpoints, explore links between music, art, literature and dance and find the essence of each masterwork, interpreting each on its own terms.
Described by Boston Voyager Magazine as an ensemble of “depth, brilliance and conviction,” the Thoreau Piano Trio has appeared in concerts and festivals throughout the US and was a featured resident ensemble at the Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival in Vermont, the White Lake Chamber Music Festival in Michigan and the Chelmsford
Center for the Arts in Massachusetts. Not limited to conventional concert hall performance, the Thoreau Piano Trio frequently plays in locations including coffee shops, libraries, private homes, churches, pubs and traditional jazz/rock venues.
The Thoreau Piano Trio pursues artistic expressions that cross boundaries. A recent collaboration with Commonwealth Ballet resulted in the world premiere of “Rehearsal,” a ballet choreographed by Chip Morris to the music of Leonard Bernstein, performed live with the Thoreau Piano Trio. Another multimedia event was the presentation of Martin Boykan’s Rites of Passage paired with the artwork by Susan Schwalb which inspired the piece. A video portrayal of that event may be viewed here.
Strongly connected to contemporary composers, the Thoreau Piano Trio has performed many modern works and this year will record and release two pieces written for them by intrepid New York composer William Pfaff – Departing Landscapes and Chorale.
The Thoreau Piano Trio’s current programs and projects include:
“Untamed Trios,” a Beethoven trio cycle celebrating Beethoven’s revolutionary music with a play on the Thoreau Piano Trio’s motto, “Art is Not Tame.”
Thoreau Essay Series, connecting Thoreau’s writings to musical programs including “Walking,” a deep homage to nature’s influence on thought, art and humanity, “Night and Moonlight,” an invitation to discover hidden beauty and transform one’s perspective, and “Faith in a Seed,” an exploration of artistic potential and propagation.
“Significant Others,” a series concept weaving works by women composers, from Clara Schumann to Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, into multiple programs.
“Notes and Letters,” combining readings from composers’ letters along with performances of their compositions.
“For the Birds,” a program referencing birds but also in service of animals – an event that may be presented as a benefit for animal shelters or a children’s outreach concert, exploring connections between composers and their feathered or furry friends.
More program information may be found here.
Susan Jensen, violin
Violinist Susan Jensen is a collaborative artist of the first rank. Her wide-ranging career includes extensive experience in traditional classical music – solo, chamber and orchestral – and also crosses boundaries to embrace experimental and microtonal music, historically-informed styles from early baroque to modern, and forays into pop, rock, film and television.
Teaming up with several of today’s leading composers, Susan has commissioned, premiered and recorded substantial and intriguing solo works, including the Grammy-nominated Concerto for Violin with Gamelan by Bill Alves, a virtuosic piece which marries extended violin techniques and non-western tuning systems in a traditional classical form. “This music is mesmerizing and quite beautiful. Susan Jensen’s superb violin playing, with its rich and languorous musical lines, overlays the soft, delicate and glimmering sounds of the bronze gamelan instruments” Annette Sanger, The Whole Note, February 2016. Susan also commissioned and premiered the compelling and uncommon Wound for singing violinist by Conrad Kehn. Her collaborations with composers have also led to the creation of works like the Ninth String Quartet by renowned American composer Samuel Adler, premiered and recorded while she was Violin Professor at the University of Missouri and a member of the Esterhazy String Quartet.
A passionate chamber musician, Susan has been a member of several preeminent ensembles including the award-winning Southwest Chamber Music Society, the ground-breaking new music ensemble Xtet, and the internationally acclaimed DaVinci and Esterhazy String Quartets. She has traveled the globe far and wide performing internationally throughout Southern China, in Brazil for the XXV Festival Internacional de Musica
do Para, in Italy at Castel San Giogrio, and nationally at the White Lake Chamber Music Festival, Warebrook Festival, Microfest, New Music Symposium and Eastern Sierra Music Festival.
Susan has performed and recorded with many fine artists, such as Italian keyboard specialist Enrico Baiano, winner of the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d'Or, Choc de la Musique and Platte des Monats, with whom she has recorded Bach Triple Concerto and Telemann Concerto TWV 42. She has worked with opera legends Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, popular music icons Aerosmith, Ringo Starr, Dave Brubeck, Jeff Lynn, Brian Wilson, Bill Medley, Randy Newman, Reba McEntire, Harry Connick, Jr. and Garth Brooks as well as film and television composing greats Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Thomas Newman, Mark Snow, Mike Post, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfmann, W. G. “Snuffy” Walden and Jeff Beal.
Susan studied violin with Dorothy DeLay and chamber music with the LaSalle and Tokyo String Quartets at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree. Under the mentorship of Eudice Shapiro she received her Master’s Degree from the University of Southern California, where she was an Alpert Merit Scholar and received the George Kast Merit Achievement Award.
Cellist Darry Dolezal has performed thousands of concerts in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Copacabana Palace. In a wide-ranging career Dolezal has played works for solo cello (many written for him), concertos, a superabundance of chamber music, orchestral works, operas, and a smattering of things hard to categorize. His live performances have been heard on radio and television stations throughout North America, South America and Europe, and his recordings are issued on the Albany, Capstone, Centaur and CRI/New World labels.
Some of the adventures experienced by Dolezal and his cello include: sharing the stage with a Samba band in Brazil; being Gabor Rejto’s stand partner in a cello choir conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich (premiering a piece by Lucas Foss); collaborating with composers, choreographers, dancers and other musicians in a performance at Jacob’s Pillow; staging an outburst during Donald Martino’s From the Other Side at the Warebrook Festival (as coached by Martino); playing in the Artaria Quartet, chosen as one of the “ten best young string quartets in the world,” surrounded by the lights and cameras of the CBC during the Banff International String Quartet Competition.
In 2006 Dolezal was designated a “musician of note” by the U.S. Department of State through a Partners of the Americas cultural exchange program, traveling to Brazil to play concerts and present master classes and in exchange receiving an immersion into the musical, social and culinary life of the region. (Ask him about playing Villa-Lobos in Rio. Or how to make a killer caipirinha.)
A sought-after cellist in Boston during the eighties and nineties, Dolezal appeared with groups such as Abbott Chamber Players, Alea III, the EOS Ensemble, Underground Composers and the Opera Company of Boston. In 1992 Dolezal won a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Rural Residency, living and performing for nine months in Tifton, Georgia, followed by an Artist-in-Residence position at Viterbo College in La Crosse, Wisconsin. For two decades he was on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia as cellist of the Esterhazy Quartet, one of America’s longest-standing Resident Ensembles.
An ardent advocate for contemporary music, Darry Dolezal collaborates with many composers and has premiered over two hundred works, including pieces by Samuel Adler, Michael Ching, David Kraehenbuehl, Thomas Oboe Lee, Marjorie Merryman, David Rakowski, and Dalit Warshaw, to name just a few. He created a new music festival at Viterbo College, and was co-founder and Artistic Director of the Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival in Vermont.
Darry Dolezal’s principal cello teachers were Raymond Stuhl (a student of Hugo Becker!), Edward Laut and Yehuda Hanani. His chamber music coaches include such legendary musicians as Leon Fleisher, Raphael Hillyer, Eugene Lehner, Menachem Pressler, Alexander Schneider, Leonard Shure, Karen Tuttle and Donald Weilerstein. He received degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Kansas.
Pianist Paul Jacobs has performed across the U.S. as a soloist and chamber musician in a variety of venues including Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center; Queens Library, NY; The Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA; The Lilypad, Cambridge, MA; Hill Hall, UNC; University Capitol Centre Recital Hall, UI; and The Block, Muskegon, MI. His repertoire covers a wide range of music with an affinity for 20th century and new works. Solo performances have featured Ives’s Concord Sonata, selections of Ligeti Etudes, and Philip Glass’s Metamorphosis.
As a champion of new music, Mr. Jacobs has collaborated with currently active American composers Allen Anderson, Martin Boykin, Steve Rouse, and Yehudi Wyner. He premiered works of Allen Anderson in 2011 in Vermont and 2013 at UNC. He was also a frequent performer on the Cambridge-based Composer Focus Concert Series (2014-2016). The concert series received a grant from the city of Cambridge and was previewed in a Boston Globe article on the music of Philip Glass. In 2017 Mr. Jacobs was the soloist for a recording of Mary Bichner’s piano concerto, Early Spring, commissioned by Mount Auburn Cemetery. He has also recorded with Juventas New Music Ensemble on the Navano label.
Mr. Jacobs has an interest in the study of the mind and how it relates to music. From his experiences as a performer, he became interested in how the mind deals with randomness, how it memorizes, and how different states of mind can be used effectively for learning or performing.
He enjoys reading books on these subjects, and has participated in neurofeedback training and the Feldenkrais method.
Mr. Jacobs is active in the Boston-area community doing concerts at schools, churches, and retirement homes. He and his wife, Yilin You, were featured performers as a piano-duo on a benefit concert for ovarian cancer at Longy School of Music. He currently teaches private lessons at Concord Conservatory of Music and from his home studio. Mr. Jacobs holds an A.D. from Longy School of Music, M.M. from Michigan State University, and B.M. from Hope College. His former teachers include Randall Hodgkinson, Deborah Moriarty, Joan Conway, and Arlene Warners.