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Merling Trio blends old and new
Strings, keys kick off ProMusicas concert season
Bruce Uchimura, Renata Artman Knific and Susan Wiersma Uchimura make up The Merling Trio, a classical group that will perform Tuesday at Pearce Auditorium on the campus of Brenau University. Tuesday's concert will be the first concert of the season for the ProMusica concert series.

The Merling Trio

What: Opening concert of the ProMusica concert series
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Pearce Auditorium, Brenau University, 500 Washington St., Gainesville
How much: $15; students free with ID
More info: 770-535-7342

Close your eyes while you're listening to The Merling Trio, and you might picture yourself at a grand soiree, couples gliding past you as they dance to the group's precise classical sound.

Pianist Susan Wiersma Uchimura, cellist Bruce Uchimura and violinist Renata Artman Knific comprise the trio, which will fill Pearce Auditorium with classical standards and contemporary compositions on Tuesday as part of Gainesville's ProMusica concert series.

The violinist, pianist and cellist were students together at the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, Ohio, and happened to move to Michigan at the same time.

"Bruce and I actually ended up getting married," Susan Wiersma Uchimura said. "We moved to Michigan to teach at Western Michigan University at the same time our violinist Renata did."

The trio formed in 1988.

"We decided at that time since we all knew one another and appreciated one another's playing, why don't we go ahead and form a trio and just have fun with it," she said.

The group later received a residency at the university and began finding success nationally, making a stop at the famed Carnegie Hall.

For their ProMusica performance, The Merling Trio will bring songs they've played along their path of success.

"The very first work that we ever commissioned was back in 1993. (It) is one of the pieces that we're programming there in Gainesville," Uchimura said.

"That is the ‘Second Piano Trio' and the composer is C. Curtis Smith. That was for the occasion of our debut at Carnegie Hall."

Uchimura said the trio also will play a piece from their newest CD.

"The second half of the program, after intermission, will be (Antonin) Dvorak's ‘Dumky Trio,' and that is probably one of the most famous piano trios in our repertoire," Uchimura said. "I'm sure a lot of the Gainesville audience will be familiar with that piece, and that we recorded for our most recent CD which came out last fall, ‘Postcards in E.'"

Uchimura said classical musicians have a different approach to recording a CD than musicians from other genres.

"It is a little different from, say, popular music, where typically it will be their own music," she said.

Uchimura said The Merling Trio records classical standards, songs written by long-gone but well-known composers or commissions new works from contemporary classical composers.

But she added that not every classical musician interprets the standards in the same way.

"The notes are there, and in terms of precision, yes, you are supposed to be playing every single note that the composer wrote down and no additional notes, no fewer notes - exactly what's there," she said.

"The idea is to reproduce what's on the printed page, but the composer isn't there to tell you exactly what he or she meant at that time, and you're bringing all your individual judgment as to the way to best interpret what you think the composer meant to do, and there are many successful ways to do it."