Time for Three, or Tf3 for short, has performed from Carnegie Hall and the famed jazz club Yoshi’s in San Francisco to European festivals, NFL games and the Indy 500. The group’s hit YouTube bullying-prevention video, “Stronger,” has inspired students across the globe, eliciting features on CNN and the Huffington Post. Since 2009, Tf3 has held a hugely successful residency with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, helping to expand the orchestra’s audience with innovative outreach. The latest milestone for Tf3 was June 24, 2014, with the release of their debut on UMC, Time for Three. The new album, with tracks co-produced by Bon Iver’s Rob Moose, showcases not only the trio’s melody-rich string weave but also its uncommon flair for collaboration, with the group teaming with pop singer-songwriter Joshua Radin, jazz saxophone icon Branford Marsalis, Decca cello star Alisa Weilerstein and ukulele ace Jake Shimabukuro, among others.
Since Tf3 were fellow students at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music
they have wowed media and fellow artists alike with their charismatic
musicianship. National Public Radio said: “In person, the members of
Time for Three come off as just three dudes in a band. But with their
staggering technique and freewheeling genre-crossing, it’s hard not to
be swept up in the force of their contagious energy.” The Wall Street Journal
praised the trio’s rare blend of “spontaneity and precision,” while the
Indianapolis Examiner raved, “Demonstrating their ability to deeply connect
with their audience in a most interactive way, they electrified a full-house crowd.”
But perhaps no one has offered a more enthusiastic appraisal than the great
Sir Simon Rattle, chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, who said:
“Simply put, they’re a knockout! Three benevolent monsters – monsters of
ability and technique surely. But also conveyers of an infectious joy that
I find both touching and moving. I would recommend them not only for
entertainment value, but also for anyone looking to see how all types of
American music can develop, when life and passion such as this are breathed
Time for Three, the trio’s UMC debut, sees the group explore the interactive
possibilities of string instruments, projecting their onstage magnetism into
pure aural allure. The album also presents the collaborative essence of the
group in the most organic fashion. As Tf3’s Nick Kendall points out, they
have a personal connection to each of the guest artists. The trio blends its
warm sound with the dulcet voice of Joshua Radin in new arrangements for
four of his signature songs: “Everything Will Be All Right,” “What If You,”
“Winter” and “Closer.” Kendall says: “We were big fans of Joshua and met
him in a New York restaurant – then we began to imagine how our instruments
would provide the ideal bed for his voice, so that it’s like an oboe rising out of a
string orchestra.” Cellist Alisa Weilerstein was an acquaintance for years, with
Kendall and violin partner Zach De Pue having studied with her father,
violinist Donald Weilerstein, co-founder of the Cleveland String Quartet.
But the trio’s first musical meeting with Alisa was on the album’s
arrangement by composer Kenji Bunch of the all-time Rachmaninoff
favorite Vocalise – with Alisa singing lead on her cello. “It’s a 21st-century version of the piece we all know and love,” De Pue says, “and we hope to perform it with not only Alisa but with cellists from orchestras all over the world.”
With Branford Marsalis – a member of the first family of New Orleans jazz – the trio performs the “Queen of Voodoo” on the album, with the track a stylistic gumbo of American music in which the composer, Tf3’s Ranaan Meyer, imagined the band busking in the Crescent City. Marsalis has been an avuncular presence for the trio since the three musicians were put together with the saxophonist at a benefit concert, where “he schooled us,” Kendall recalls. Meyer adds: “He represents something serious and real – a great performer who has a real sense of what an audience wants.” The centrepiece of Time for Three is a concert favorite of the trio’s, “Chaconne in Winter.” It’s perhaps the ultimate Tf3 mash-up, with Bach’s totemic “Chaconne” melded with Bon Iver’s “Calgary” in an arrangement by Steve Hackman, a friend and collaborator of the group’s from the Curtis Institute.
Time for Three also includes a meeting with Indianapolis folk-pop sister duo Lily & Madeleine on Meyer and Rob Moose’s arrangement of the timeless
“Danny Boy,” plus a collaboration with Hawaiian ukulele virtuosoJake Shimabukuro on Kendall’s “Happy Day.” Other originals on the album are Kendall’s “Roundabouts” and “Banjo Love.” ”The album represents an eclectic, but natural, mix. Kendall explains: “Like most young people in America now, the three of us grew up listening to all kinds of music – ’90s hip-hop, grunge, bluegrass – and we’ve always played a wide variety of music. We’re part of a new generation of classically trained musicians who approach diverse styles from the same heartfelt place. We hear and feel it all in a similar way, as just music.”
De Pue, Kendall and Meyer started playing together while at the Curtis Institute,
with the two violinists discovering a mutual love for fiddling in the bluegrass
and country & western traditions. Then Meyer introduced them to his roots
in jazz and improvised music. After experiments and jam sessions, the musical
friendships evolved into Time for Three. The key was chemistry, as De Pue
explains: “The instruments we play are almost incidental – it’s the musical
personalities and the unique synergy we have together that make Tf3 what it is.
Nick and I have different approaches on the violin, but after 14 years of playing
together, our styles and energies complement one another in a way that’s
magical, really. I think Ranaan is reinventing the double bass, paying particular
attention to quality of sound. But we have great chemistry with or without
our instruments, onstage or off – it’s always fun to be a part of this.”
Tf3 gained instant attention in 2003, when there was a lightning-induced
power failure during a concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra. While technicians
worked to restore the lights, Meyer and De Prue, who were both performing as
members of the orchestra, obliged with an impromptu jam session that
included such folk-inflected works as “Jerusalem’s Ridge,” “Ragtime Annie”
and “The Orange Blossom Special.” It was very different music from the
scheduled symphony, but the crowd went wild. The trio has since performed
more than a thousand engagements as diverse as the music it plays: from
featured soloists on the Philadelphia Orchestra’s subscription series and
residencies at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to former Philly maestro
Christoph Eschenbach’s birthday concert at Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein
Festival and a private concert on the aircraft carrier Intrepid off Manhattan.
Tf3 independently released its first album, Three Fervent Travelers (E1),
in 2010, which debuted in the top 10 on the charts of Billboard, Amazon
and iTunes, remaining in the top 10 of the Billboard Crossover Chart for more
than 10 months. That release followed two self-produced CDs, which sold
more than 20,000 copies. In 2011, Tf3 raised more than $20,000 from its
fans in one week through a Kickstarter campaign to finance the production
of their first professionally shot music video. The result was “Stronger,” a
potent bullying-prevention video, which became a YouTube sensation,
establishing the trio as leaders in the fight against bullying. The group
partnered with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to bring their
message to schools across the country through residencies,
workshops and the media.
Tf3 has embarked on a major commissioning program to expand its unique
repertoire for symphony orchestras. The first fruit of the program was Concerto
4-3 by Jennifer Higdon. In 2008, the trio premiered the work in six performances
with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach. The group has
since been played it dozens of times across the country to acclaim, including
with the Fort Worth Symphony (documented on a 2012 recording released
by the orchestra) and a 2013 performance with the Baltimore Symphony at
Carnegie Hall. In 2010, Tf3 premiered Travels in Time for Three by Chris Brubeck,
co-commissioned by the Boston Pops, Colorado Music Festival and eight other
organizations. The next work in the series was Games and Challenges by
William Bolcom, commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and
the Grand Rapids Symphony; the trio premiered the piece in 2013.
In 2009, Tf3 inaugurated an ambitious three-year residency with the
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, a groundbreaking project in which the trio
not only got involved at the community level but also curated a wildly successful
“Happy Hour” series of concerts with the orchestra. The project generated
media attention and heightened the orchestra’s profile, especially among the
younger demographic, making the three musicians household names in Indianapolis. Thrilled with the residency’s success, the Indianapolis Symphony decided in 2012 to extend and expand the trio’s contract. The group now spends 14 weeks per season with the orchestra doing everything from programming, arranging and performing concerts to conducting education, fundraising and community outreach. In 2013, Tf3’s residency with the ISO received an Indiana Innovation Award.
Tf3 has been seen and heard via various TV and radio broadcasts throughout the country, including numerous times on Public Television, NPR and CNN. The trio was featured in a documentary film about Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square directed by Robert Downey Sr., and the group recorded the soundtrack to the History Channel production The Spanish-American War. Even with an ever-increasing performance and media schedule,
Tf3 remains committed to reaching younger audiences by participating in educational residencies and outreach concerts, including annual visits to Paul Newman’s Hole In The Wall Gang Camp for children with terminal illnesses; weeklong residencies at the Kennedy Center; Carnegie Hall’s series of Family Concerts; and countless jam sessions and instances of impromptu music-making with students, from university classes to coffee houses.
No less than the late Paul Newman summed up Time for Three’s cross-generational appeal: “To hear these three young guys is to be thankful that music was invented… If I had been able to create a sound like these kids a few years back, I might have thought twice about going into acting!”
"Simply put, they're a knockout! Three benevolent monsters, monsters of ability and technique surely. But also conveyers of an infectious joy that I find both touching and moving. I would recommend them not only for entertainment value, but also for anyone looking to see how all types of American Music can develop, when life and passion such as this are breathed into it." --Sir Simon Rattle
"Simply put, they're a knockout! Three benevolent monsters, monsters of ability and technique surely. But also conveyers of an infectious joy that I find both touching and moving. I would recommend them not only for entertainment value, but also for anyone looking to see how all types of American Music can develop, when life and passion such as this are breathed into it." -Sir Simon Rattle
Nicolas (Nick for short) Kendall (founding member) connects people through music. He picked up his ﬁrst violin at the age of three. With an insatiable appetite for a diversity of expression, he went to the streets of Washington D.C. to play trash cans for lunch money as a teenager. By college, he was forming pick-up rock bands at Curtis Institute between concert debuts at the most prestigious halls in the world.
Nick is one of our generation’s most persuasive champions of bringing new audiences to concert halls across America. Irreverent, funny, and relentless, Nick has become a force for bringing people together through music, on stage and off. His work is based on the simple idea that the energy you exude greatly impacts the relationships that you build.
Nick’s leadership comes from a long personal history with collective action. Years ago, Nick gathered his friends to form a band whose direction comes from the power of the collective, now the critically acclaimed East Coast Chamber Orchestra.
Trained in the Suzuki method, which his grandfather, John Kendall, brought to America in the 1960s, Nick continues the teaching tradition. As a caretaker of his craft, he is passing on the vitality of classical music to a new generation.
Ranaan Meyer (founding member) is a double bassist redefining the career path of a professional musician. His work runs the gamut from appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra to Joshua Radin, and all points between. Ranaan began playing the double bass at age 11 and has worked with many of the double bass's greatest teachers, including Rufus Reid, Hal Robinson, Gary Karr, Neil Courtney, Larry Grenadier and many more. His studies at the Curtis Institute of Music led him to the formation of Time for Three with fellow students and violinists Nick Kendall and Zach DePue.
When not performing with Time for Three, Ranaan Meyer spends his time building Ranaan Meyer Entertainment, a company dedicated to the universal education of double bass players. Through summer camps Wabass Institute and Wabass Workshop, Ranaan works with the most promising students and professionals in the world every summer. Recently, Ranaan began publishing The Next Level Bassist, a free online journal that is dedicated to bass education. Ranaan recently received a Community Partner grant from the American Composers Forum to compose 10 pieces for student musicians in disadvantaged areas, and will be conducting residencies on those pieces beginning in the fall of 2013.
Ranaan currently performs on a Cavani double bass made in Italy circa 1892 and a Reid Hudson bow. Committed to enhancing his live sound, Ranaan has developed a new system for amplification. His setup includes a Mackie 12 channel mixer, Ernie Ball volume pedal, and Digitech Bass Driver. Ranaan uses a Fishman Full Circle pickup and DPA d:vote bass microphone to amplify his sound. Ranaan is sponsored through David Gage String Repair with the use of the Featherweight flight case, and Shank Strings, performing all repair work on Ranaan's bass and bows.
A rising star among both classical and crossover music fans, he was appointed concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in 2007 and became one of the youngest concertmasters in the country. He graduated in 2002 from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with renowned violinists Ida Kavafian and Jaime Laredo. He earned a full‐tuition scholarship to Curtis and he also held the David H. Springman Memorial Fellowship. He served as concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra before becoming a violinist in The Philadelphia Orchestra. Prior to entering Curtis, he attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.
With an innate talent for improvisation and arranging, Zach found much of his inspiration from his three older brothers, all violinists and fiddlers. In 1985, the four classically‐trained brothers formed their own acclaimed group, The DePue Brothers, which combines classical and bluegrass for an eclectic, fun concert experience. The group’s father is Wallace DePue, a composer and professor emeritus at Bowling Green State University.
Zach’s violin was made by Ferdinand Gagliano of Naples, Italy, in 1757. When not performing, he enjoys movies, Broadway musicals, reading, running and watching sports (especially college football – Go Buckeyes!).
Canadian violinist, Nikki Chooi has been described as, “a model of taste and tonal refinement” (Boston Globe) and “vigorous and colorful” (New York Times). The First Prize Winner of the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition and a Laureate of the 2012 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition, his many engagements have included performances as soloist with the Victoria Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, National Orchestra of Belgium, Malaysian Philharmonic, and the Auckland Philharmonia. His recital engagements have taken him to the Vancouver Recital Series, Debut Atlantic Recital Tour, Canadian National Arts Debut Series, Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Series, La Monnai "Concertini" in Belgium, Chamber Music New Zealand, and Australia’s Musica Viva Series. An avid chamber musician as well, Nikki has performed in many international festivals including the Marlboro Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival, the Dresden Music Festival in Germany, the Moritzburg Festival, the Ottawa Chamber Festival, and the Montreal Chamber Fest. In the 2014-2015 season, he will be touring with Musicians from Marlboro. Nikki gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, CBC Radio, the Sylva Gelber Foundation, and the Victoria Foundation. He uses the 1700 "Taft" Stradivari on generous loan from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank.