Charles Yang of Time for Three Talks YOSA and Guns N’ Roses

click to enlarge From Left: Charles Yang, Ranaan Meyer and Nicolas Kendall of Time for Three - Courtesy of Time for Three
Courtesy of Time for Three
From Left: Charles Yang, Ranaan Meyer and Nicolas Kendall of Time for Three
String trio Time for Three bucks tradition and puts on show-stopping and genre-bending performances worldwide, in which Top 40 hits are as likely to make an appearance as the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Active since the early aughts, the trio brought on violin phenom Charles Yang in 2015 after founding member Zachary DePue left the ensemble.

Next week, TF3 joins forces with the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio’s Philharmonic ensemble at the Tobin for the latest entry in YOSA’s Zachry Series of concerts. I caught up with Yang over email and managed to draw out a few hints about the program.

What led to the formation of Time for Three?
Time for Three has had an amazing history. The group before I joined had been performing for almost a decade. I remember hearing about them when I was in college. I joined the two founding members Nick [Kendall] and Ranaan [Meyer] about three years ago and it’s like we’ve been playing together our whole lives. It’s rare to find musicians (especially within the classical world) that share similar curiosities while also rooted within tradition and that’s what we are. I believe that’s why TF3 works and keeps evolving.

Typically, the makeup of string trios excludes the double bass. What challenges do you face regarding the unusual instrumentation of your ensemble?
We really cherish our unique formation and the challenges that come with it. Because we are just two violins and a bass we have to come up creative ways to fill out harmonies or lay down a rhythmic beat. We also sing so we like to think of that as three more colors within our harmonic toolbox.

How do you decide what to program, and how to balance more modern bops with traditional repertory and art music?

All three of us are deeply rooted in classical music but play and listen to many other genres. We like to blur the lines between the genres of music that we play. Nothing really is written for two violins and bass so we do a lot of arranging and writing ourselves which allows us to be creative in what colors or “genres” we incorporate. We might mash-up [Gustav] Mahler with Guns N’ Roses but we find musical connections to seamlessly connect the two regardless of genres.

How did the collaboration with YOSA come about, and what should we look forward to on the program?
We are very lucky to be able to play with so many of the world’s greatest orchestras; however, there is something really special when collaborating with young musicians. We love how engaging and excited they are and it’s a great learning experience between them and us. Super excited to work with YOSA! We’re gonna play a couple tunes that people may recognize (hint: from the answer above) and also a piece we wrote called “Songs of Joy” which incorporates three of our original songs weaved between beautiful orchestral writing by composer TJ Cole. It’s gonna be awesome!

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Kelly Nelson

Kelly Nelson is a digital content editor for the San Antonio Current.

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