By DAVID DUPONT, Sentinel News Editor
Project Trio doesn’t have the usual classical chamber ensemble biography.
The musicians – flutist Greg Pattillo, cellist Eric Stephenson and bassist Peter Seymour – were “all good buddies” at the Cleveland Institute of Music in the late-1990s.
Seymour said in a recent telephone interview that they loved playing together, both within the walls of the conservatory and “extracurricular” gigs where they explored rock, hip hop and jazz.
After graduation and grad degrees, the three headed off on the difficult path of making musical careers for themselves. Still they got together when they could, and when they could they talked. Those conversations turned to the eclectic mix of music they had always enjoyed.
Seymour said they wanted “our own little project that we could do a couple times a year and make music we really wanted to do.”
After lots of talk, in 2005 they played their first show. Then in 2007, Pattillo posted a video, “Inspector Gadget Remix.” It featured his distinctive beatbox technique for flute which incorporates vocal sounds and percussive effects into his playing.
The video exploded. It has now had 26 million views.
On the basis of that the trio was able to focus on Project Trio full time. Since then the trio has toured worldwide. Project Trio will perform Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall as part of Bowling Green State University’s Festival Series. Tickets are $15 and $5 for BGSU students. Visit bgsu.edu/arts or call 419-372-8171.
That video represented a lot of hard work, Seymour said, and it took more hard work to exploit its popularity to show presenters an audience existed for the ensemble’s twisted blend of musical styles.
The musicians match their stylish repertoire with an appealing stage manner.
“There’s no question that concert music, instrumental music is changing, and that engaging the audience is one of the most important things we do as chamber and jazz musicians,” Seymour said. “There’s a lot of cool new music going on in classical, jazz and instrumental music and we’re trying to add our voice to that.”
They put high priority in connecting with audiences. “We speak to the audience regularly,” Seymour said. “We smile. We have fun. We dance.”
That’s not an act though, “it’s who we are.”
“We love to perform, we love to share music with people,” he said.
As the band arranges and composes new material “we truly think about what the audience might like.” That prompts adventures into new genres – Brazilian choro music or Indian ragas.
“We’re always trying to push forward.”
And there’s one way to test those experiments: “The only place you can find out if an audience will like stuff is to bring it to the stage and see what happens.”
Seymour said the Bowling Green audience can expect a mix of what the trio has to offer. That includes off-beat versions of classical masterpieces such as “Peter and the Wolf” and the finale to the opera “William Tell.”
The show will include original music, as well as the sound of jazz composer Charles Mingus, and some hip hop, Seymour said. “Truly something for everyone.”