Delphi goes to the Netherlands! Orlando Festival and Competition 2015

Greetings listeners, supporters, and music-lovers all!


It has been quite an exciting year for us, with the release of our debut album, our commission with William Bolcom, and our full 2015-16 season starting in September. Needless to say we are excited to make some music! To add to the excitement, we are thrilled to announce our participation in the Orlando Festival and Competition, located in Kerkrade, the Netherlands. The Orlando competition is exclusively for Piano Trios this year, and we were honored to be the only group outside of Europe to be chosen to participate. The panel of judges is impressive to say the least, and we are eager to hear the stellar music-making of our competing colleagues as we play alongside them. We are also very excited to perform in the Orlando Festival, which takes place directly after the competition.

We are so honored as well by all the support we have received to make it to the competition itself. While the competition is extremely generous in offering some travel and boarding assistance, we were severely lacking in funding to fly four people (including Michelle’s cello, who is also a person!) to the Netherlands. We launched a fundraising campaign that was just incredibly successful, due to the generosity of supporters and donors like you. Thank you SO MUCH!!! If you are feeling left out of the campaign, not to worry! We are always in need of funding for our multiple projects, such as our commission with William Bolcom, The Practice Project, and much, much more. If you would like to make a donation, you can always visit our donation page here.

We are now hunkering down and in preparation mode– there are three rounds in the competition that we are most absolutely performing in, one of which includes a freshly commissioned piece. While much of the repertoire is familiar to us, we are constantly discovering new twists and turns, finding insights that our younger selves may have missed, and working thoughtfully and carefully towards evolutions of ourselves as performers and our performances of each piece. It is the best job in the world! We will keep you updated as we delve further into the preparation process– you can find all of our musings here at our blog.

Thank you again to all of our supporters, and we wish you all the very best in this lovely summer!

Michelle, Liana, and Jeff

Delphi CD release: “Live”

The Delphi Trio is releasing their debut album, Live, on February 7, 2015. Featured works on the live recording include Haydn’s Trio in C major, Hob. XV:27, Arensky’s Trio in D minor, Op. 32, and the Adagio sostenuto movement from Chopin’s Trio in G minor, Op. 8.

“We are delighted to share this concert experience with a wider range of listeners,” stated Liana Berube, violinist of the Delphi Trio. “The energy of live performance adds a dimension to the emotional journey of a work that traditional, highly edited recordings can’t attain. We’re most interested in sharing the humanity of music with our listeners, and we do that best in a live concert setting.”

The Haydn trio is particularly engaging for Delphi. “Haydn’s works weren’t meant to be played one hundred percent the way they are written on the page,” stated Jeffrey LaDeur, pianist of the Delphi Trio. “In the 18th century, it was standard for musicians to improvise and ornament on the framework that the sheet music provided. We have had a lot of fun working with this piece, as every time we play it, something different comes out. Sometimes this means a difference of emphasis or tone of voice, and sometimes it means adding an unexpected blues-style lick or a crazy glissando.”

The Arensky explores the depth and breadth of the Trio’s expressive voice. Written in memory of a friend of the composer, the piece travels through a wide landscape of emotions in a truly Romantic and Russian style. “The Arensky trio is a wonderful challenge,” says Michelle Kwon, cellist of the Delphi Trio. “Its richness calls the three of us to work as a single hybrid instrument, but it also features moments of distinctly individual voices and characters. The piece has us wearing many different musical hats – it’s like staging a play that has fifteen characters but casts only three actors.”

The Chopin movement was added to the concert program as an encore, and as a reward to supporters of the trio’s successful crowdfunding campaign. “We promised that if we raised over a certain amount in our fundraising drive, that we would add another track to the album,” stated the Delphi Trio. “We felt that the Chopin would be the perfect finishing touch to both the album and the concert experience – after the fiery ending of the Arensky, the Chopin offers an operatic love scene that is dramatic but ultimately soothing.”

Formed in 2010 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Delphi Trio quickly rose to national attention and has performed all over the USA as well as internationally. The Trio’s mission is to give voice to the authentic, essential spirit of a composition, acting as a conduit between composer and audience. Delphi is dedicated to both standard and contemporary works, and takes the view that music is all part of a single continuum deserving equal attention, whether written 300 years ago or yesterday.

Live was made possible by a grant from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music’s Musical Grant Program, as well as the generous support of Gary Rust, Ray Walton, Rina Chang, and Lance and Dahlia Nagel.

Acclaimed Composer William Bolcom Writes First Piano Trio for Delphi

One of the great composers of our time, William Bolcom has had an illustrious career and continues to receive commissions from premier orchestras, opera companies, chamber ensembles and soloists throughout the world. While his chamber music catalogue boasts two piano quartets, two piano quintets, four violin sonatas, and eleven string quartets, Mr. Bolcom has never written a traditional, substantial piano trio. His existing works for violin, cello, and piano consist of three charming rags that make up the  Spring Trio (1996) and the quick-witted and mischievous Introduzione e Rondo: Haydn Go Seek (2009) the latter of which has been featured on Delphi’s concerts throughout 2013-2014.

How is this possible? How did one of the great voices in 20th and 21st century music make it this far without an essay in as beloved a genre as the piano trio? As it turns out, composers are busy, especially composers like William Bolcom. There are always projects and commissions, operas, symphonies, and other ensembles vying for the next opening in the schedule. One thing leads to another, and decades pass without a piano trio.

Next question- how are we the ensemble who gets to receive, premiere and record his first ever Piano Trio? Quite simply, we asked him.

During the summer of 2013, Delphi performed for the first time at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival at a particularly serendipitous time. The festival was celebrating its 20th anniversary season which coincided with the 75th birthdays of three great American composers: Joan Tower, John Harbison, and William Bolcom. Our trio was asked to prepare Joan Tower’s Big Sky (2000) for workshop with the composer and public performance on the subscription series. Unfortunately, Joan Tower was unable to attend the festival due to illness, and we were unable to meet her and get her feedback on our performance of Big Sky. The festival proceeded as planned with Tower’s music programmed and we did in fact workshop the piece with members of Eighth Blackbird. William Bolcom was in the audience and heard the performance, sharing some very kind words about our playing afterward.

During lunch, many topics were discussed among the veteran composers and young ensembles performing their works. When piano trios come up in conversation, Mr. Bolcom mentioned that he had never written a piano trio. Jeff asked in front of the whole group if he would like to do so. After a short follow up conversation, it was decided that the prospect of writing for trio was in fact appealing and we were put in touch with Mr. Bolcom’s publisher. The details of the commission were then agreed upon, and we had the daunting task of fundraising for the piece.

Enter the phenomenal group of people that make up the Delphi Trio’s Advisory Council. After formally announcing the commission to the council, one of our closest friends and supporters pledged and donated the 50% deposit needed to secure the commission. We were in awe of this generosity and its transformative impact on our ensemble. It was exactly one year from the time we met Bolcom to the moment that we sent our deposit for the new work, to be premiered some time in 2016.

As we returned for our second summer at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in June 2014, we reached out to Mr. Bolcom and invited him to our performance in Ann Arbor where he and his wife Joan have their lovely home. Much to our surprise, we were warmly greeted with tantalizing sketches of what will become the Piano Trio, well ahead of schedule. Mr. Bolcom told us that he was unprepared for the immediacy and decisiveness of the ideas that took hold of him as he began to sketch the work. When inspiration strikes, you listen and put pen to paper. All these years, there has been a trio waiting for the opportunity to realize itself, and we are fortunate enough to present that opportunity.

Now, here we are with a forthcoming Trio (one we are absolutely sure is going to be a tremendous addition to the repertoire) whose composition has been driven by genuine desire to express something essential. It is a humbling moment to receive the dedication of this music as a young, upcoming ensemble. We do not command the large budget of more established non-profits and foundations, and we certainly do not have the worldwide fame and recognition of the composer.

What we do have is our playing, our values, our supporters, and our determination. The combination of these four has set the wheels in motion for a new work that is unique in the literature, unique in Bolcom’s oeuvre, unique to our ensemble.

As we plan for the premiere(s) of Bolcom’s Piano Trio written for Delphi,  we want to share in our excitement and gratitude with all of you. We look forward to many performances of what will be a remarkable piece by a great artist.

With gratitude and best wishes,

Liana, Michelle, and Jeff








Delphi 2013-2014 recap

Greetings friends, supporters, lovers of music all! What a whirlwind year for the Delphi Trio- 2014 has been a great adventure so far, setting the stage for our biggest and best yet to come in the 2014-2015 season.

Let’s take a quick look back at selected highlights from January to June:

The year began with the exciting launch of The Practice Project– a community forum encouraging and connecting people interested in coming back to their relationship to music with a new perspective. We are so inspired by the number of participants and their willingness to share their personal journeys of practice. No matter where you are in life, connecting actively with music is an affirming, community building experience.

Next up, a special concert at the Crowden Music Center in Berkeley with the great cellist Bonnie Hampton. Jeff joined Bonnie for sonatas by Beethoven and Debussy followed by Brahms’ epic Piano Quintet in f minor op.34 with Liana, Joseph Maile and Pei-Ling Lin. Bonnie Hampton has been a great musical mentor to us, and we feel lucky to collaborate with an artist of her caliber.

February started off with Delphi’s curated concert of chamber music with friends from the San Jose Chamber Orchestra. In addition to the Trio’s performances of works by Brahms, William Bolcom, Max Stoffregen, the audience was treated to a wide ranging, eclectic program that included everything from Dvorak quintet to Frank Martin’s Rhapsodie for two violins, two violas and double bass, to sizzling jazz tunes played by the Out of Bounds Quartet.

In late February, Jeff, Liana and Michelle traveled to Barnesville, Georgia to perform at the Gordon State Recital Series. Led by professor James Wallace, the series is situated in a beautiful hall at the college with a first rate Steinway, attended by a loyal and enthusiastic audience, and fosters a spirit of approachability next to first rate quality. We had a blast and loved staying in a pre-Civil War era house that has been converted into a bed and Breakfast.

After the concert, we drove to the Heritage School the following morning to play for and speak with their upper and lower school students. Hundreds of attentive listeners crowded into the cafeteria to listen to Brahms, Faure, and Max Stoffregen’s Coyote Plan (consistent favorite among the high school students)

March saw the introduction to Scott Parkman, found Artistic and Executive Director of American Century Music, and organization dedicated to the performance of American music familiar and obscure. When Scott heard our performance at a salon concert presented by the Oakland East Bay Symphony, he immediately invited us to collaborated on a series of curated trio programs and individual concertos with orchestra. Featured composers include Beach, Copland, Barber, Gershwin, Bernstein and more.

April brought Delphi to Sunset Concerts in Los Gatos, California, a small series with a prestigious lineup. After playing a full program of Haydn, Henry Cowell, Faure and Schubert, Delphi received one of the best critiques to date from Peninsula Reviews. Heather J. Morris wrote that the Trio, “… performed with confidence, precision, and a masterful ability to capture the subtle expressions in a wide variety of music.” And, our favorite quote,” The energy was contagious and the way in which each performer communicated with the others was a veritable lesson in ensemble playing.”

In May, Delphi returned to Old First Concerts where our program was extremely well received by audience and critics alike. Stephen Smoliar of the SF Examiner found our performance of Schubert’s E-flat Trio to be,”… the perfect synthesis of Classical structure and Romantic expressiveness, with both sides of the dialectical opposition held in perfect balance.”

June started out with Delphi’s popular chamber music workshop for adults at the Crowden school. After the five days of intensive coaching and performing, the participants (and coaches) were exhausted but happy, and we were inspired by the students’ growth and excellence in performance.

Then it was off to the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival for our second and final year under the auspices of the Shouse Institute, a program supporting young artists at the beginning of their careers. Delphi performed works by Haydn, Arensky, Saint-Saens (e minor trio played by candlelight due to thunderstorm induced power outage) and the world premiere of a new work by Sahba Aminikia entitled “Night and Fog” commissioned by the festival for Delphi.

Hard to believe everything that has happened in the past six months, but we’re just getting started. As Delphi looks forward to its 5 year anniversary season, we thank all of you who have supported us in so many ways. You have allowed us to be where we are and to continue where we are going. Stay tuned for upcoming performances, information on our live recording project, and BIG news on the commissioning front……









Our gratitude to all of you who have supported us and continue to do so- it is with you that we celebrate the successes!





The Practice Project

We are proud to announce The Practice Project, a challenge (and a support network) for musicians of all stripes – professionals, amateurs, beginners, even those who haven’t picked up their instruments in 20 years.

Starting January 1, we challenge you to grab your instrument (an old one or one that’s new to you!), pick a piece you’ve been dying to learn, and practice your fingers off for one month! We all have so many things that can occupy our time and brain space, and the desire to explore a piece for the pure enjoyment of playing music is so frequently left by the wayside.

No more!

The Practice Project community is here to help you. Need some advice? Post a question. Want feedback on a fingering, a musical idea, whether something “works”? Post a video. Even just drop us a line to let us know you’re participating. We want to inspire as many people as we can to delve into the wonderful world of exploring the musical process.

We will post motivational notes and links to help you (and us!) stay inspired throughout the month. At the end, we encourage everyone to perform for friends, or post a video or audio link here to share the fantastic progress that you’ve made in 31 days. The goal is not to be ‘performance ready’ in a month – rather, it’s to have fun, learn something, and remember how enjoyable it is to make music!

Happy practicing!
Liana, Michelle, and Jeff

New videos!

We have some new video clips up! Live Haydn and Faure from our concert on October 14, 2013. Check them out – click on “video” under the “media” menu.

You can also check out our YouTube channel here.

Delphi joins Ariel Artists

We are pleased to announce that Delphi Trio has joined the roster of Ariel Artists! Based in Boston, Ariel has a wonderfully fresh approach to the classical scene. We are looking forward to all the exciting things soon to come from this collaboration.

Check out our artist profile on their website!

Summer, here we come!

Here we are, on the home stretch into our very exciting  2013 summer season. What a busy and wonderful year it’s been! We can’t thank you, our supporters, enough for your help in the success we’ve enjoyed so far and continue to follow. Every step we take is bringing us to even more interesting places than we’ve been before – artistically, emotionally, and physically too! We absolutely could not do it without you.

We are so excited to get started on the summer – many great things are coming up in the next couple months, and fun adventures are just waiting to be had. The short list:

  • Impromptu on WFMT Chicago – Live broadcast on Thursday, June 6 at 3:00 P.M. CDT.  We will be talking about our upcoming participation at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival‘s Shouse Institute, as well as performing some works by Dvorak and Schumann. Listen live HERE!
  • Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival – We are honored to be selected as participants in this year’s Shouse Chamber Music Institute in the Detroit area from June 10-23. As this year is the Festival’s 20th season, we are especially excited to be a part of the very special celebrations and programming that are planned. We will be performing frequently throughout the course of the Festival, and will be doing a workshop with noted composer Joan Tower. The Festival has also requested that we perform our commission from Sahba AminikiaDeltangi-ha, premiered in September 2012. Click here for a concert schedule!
  • Old First Concerts – Our final concert in our residency this season at Old First will be on June 28 at 8:00 P.M with a pre-concert talk at 7:30. Program to include works by Arensky, Tower, and Beethoven. Old First Concerts is at 1751 Sacramento St. (at Van Ness), San Francisco. For more information or tickets, click here.
  • Crowden Chamber Music Workshops – We are delighted once again to be on faculty at the summer chamber music workshops at the Crowden School in Berkeley.  Jeff and Liana will be teaching from July 8-19 at the Youth Workshop, including a performance with other faculty members on July 12, closely followed by the entire trio uniting to teach at the Adult Workshop from July 20-24. We have written in previous posts about what a special place Crowden is to both the Bay Area community and the global music community, and we are honored to be a part of their programs.
  • Bear Valley Music Festival – We’re thrilled to be featured as Artists in Residence at this year’s Bear Valley Music Festival from July 25-August 11 in Bear Valley, CA. We are going to be kept very busy, including a variety of collaborations, a recital, and a performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Festival Orchestra and music director Michael Morgan. We’re starting our training for the oxygen deprivation now – Bear Valley is at an altitude of 7,100 feet!

All in all, a very exciting and packed few months ahead. We hope that you can join us for some of these events, either in person, or listening online where possible!

Crowden Sundays @ 4

A big thank you to Eugene Sor at The Crowden School for hosting us on their Sundays @ 4 series yesterday. We had a wonderful time!

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Crowden, it is one of the most amazing institutions in the Bay Area. As a charter school for grades 4-8, the school not only has a rigorous academic curriculum but also incorporates two hours of music education into the classroom every day – technique class, chamber music, etc. We came in earlier in the week to play and talk to the students, and it is incredibly inspiring to see young people, especially at such a difficult and impressionable age, so aware of and open to their creative voices.

We will be back at Crowden this summer to teach and play. Jeff and Liana will be on faculty for the Youth Chamber Music Workshop in July, and then the whole trio will be teaching at the Adult Chamber Music Workshop a week later. We’re very proud to be part of the Crowden School’s extended family, and are looking forward to returning!

Beethoven Triple- Delphi’s Concerto Debut

We could not be more thrilled to appear as soloists with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra  and maestro George Cleve this Sunday April 7 at 7 P.M. The program features works of German/Austrian composers including a work by Ernst Bacon with clarinetist Michael Corner and a divertimento by Mozart.

The Beethoven Triple Concerto op.56 is a special piece, “something really new” according to the composer. Believed to have been written for Beethoven’s patron and student Archduke Rudolph, there is no evidence it was ever performed by its original dedicatee. While exact details of the premiere are sketchy, violinist Carl August Seidler and the legendary cellist Antonin Kraft (for whom Haydn wrote his D major Concerto) were both involved in the rehearsal and performance of the work.

This concerto is full of good nature, lyricism and out-and-out virtuosity, particularly for the strings. Beethoven’s Triple is chamber music writ large- it will be a joy to play it with SJCO and George Cleve.