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Published: Thursday, 10/15/2009

Fusion string trio opens symphony's Pops series

BY SALLY VALLONGO
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

When he's all tuxedoed and formal, violinist Zachary De Pue, concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, admits he's "knee deep in classical music."

Appointed in 2007, the 30-year-old Bowling Green native is one of the youngest musicians to achieve such an esteemed position in a major U.S. orchestra.

But in civvies and rocking with his pals, De Pue, a founding member of Time For Three, the fusion string trio currently making waves coast to coast, also is outstanding in his field - a mix of traditional, jazz, and contemporary music performed in an energetic yet virtuosic style.

Currently touring major venues in the United States, Time for Three - or TF3 as they call it - is set to perform Saturday to open the Toledo Symphony Pops series for 2009-2010.

De Pue, with violinist Nicolas Kendall and bassist Ranaan Meyer, will perform works they've commissioned and existing works arranged for them, played on amplified acoustic instruments, backed by the TSO. Damon Gupton will conduct.

From his apartment in Indianapolis, De Pue offered some clues to the Saturday program. "We'll do what we call our American suite," De Pue said of the collection of folk and country tunes such as "Shenandoah" which they've turned into their own. "The last movement is 'Orange Blossom Special.' It encapsulates what we do and is a nice introduction to the audience."

There will be samples from the new album they've just released. "It's called 'We Just Burned This For You,'•" said De Pue.

Toledoans may remember De Pue, towheaded and big-eyed, from his early, early performing days as part of the De Pue Brothers string quartet created and led by their father, Wallace De Pue.

Now an emeritus professor of music at Bowling Green State University, De Pue senior is a composer and impresario who booked his sons into county fairs, churches, and many other venues. There they showed off both their classical chops and their fiddling skills.

The brothers De Pue cut a CD, "Classical Grass," in 2003. Earlier, they were named Outstanding Musical Family of the Year by President George Bush in 1989.

"We covered a lot of different stuff growing up," said De Pue. "Dad wanted us to be versatile, which is now becoming an expected demand of conservatory students. He was ahead of his time, bless him. He had the vision to see that future musicians would need to be capable of this."

Zach, the youngest of the brothers, also performed a concerto with the Toledo Symphony in 1994, at age 13. He recalls watching TSO concertmaster Kirk Toth play and says, today, "To come back to play with them is really, really exciting."

DePue studied at Interlochen during high school, then at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and graduated in 2002 from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, one of the most prestigious musical institutions in the world, where he studied with Ani Kavafian and Jaime Laredo.

"I met like-minded people while I was at Curtis," De Pue said, mentioning his fellow musicians Kendall and Meyer. "We just discovered we enjoyed, fiddling, jazz, hip-hop and drumming."

"Nick Kendall is a gypsyesque musician," De Pue says. "He does not ally with any institution but his own." Kendall's grandfather imported the Suzuki method of teaching violin from Japan to the U.S., he adds. Suzuki, which now is taught at the TSO's own academy, encourages ear training as well as bowing and fingering.

"Ranaan Meyer is from South Jersey," De Pue says. "He's so in love with music through jazz, but he wanted to learn all styles of music." For Meyer, classical study at Curtis was a necessary achievement to become accomplished on his bass for musical styles.

They've worked steadily for the last four years, fitting Time For Three appearances around classical gigs. This fall's schedule includes shows on major stages in Baltimore, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, and The Plains, Va.

Maestro Gupton, in a return visit to Toledo, and the TSO will open for Time For Three, playing a program of American classical and Broadway classics.

Time for 3 and the Toledo Symphony Pops will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday in Stranahan Theater. Tickets are $21-$60 at toledosymphony.com or 419-246-8000.

Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com.



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