Trio Primario kicks off Whistler Chamber Music Society’s season

Vancouver musicians perform in Whistler on Sunday (Oct. 1)

The members of Vancouver’s Trio Primario have a small, ongoing rivalry.

All three are connected to rising American composer Daniel Dorff on Facebook — and each likes to imagine he responds most often to their comments.

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“We play into the rivalry that he responds to my comments more than Julie’s, but sometimes he responds to Karen’s,” said Jeff Pelletier, who plays flute. “It’s pretty funny.”

The trio will be playing a selection of Dorff’s music as part of its concert called Kaleidoscope at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on Oct. 1, kicking off the Whistler Chamber Music Society’s 2017/18 season.

“It’s got a colourful mixture of classical and some more poppy (songs) — for example Karen (Lee-Morlang, pianist) will be doing a piece by Cole Porter called ‘So in Love,’ which is a beautiful piece,” Pelletier said.

The trio — which also includes Julie Begg on clarinet — has known each other for years — even playing together in the Erato Ensemble — but it wasn’t until recently that they decided to do more touring together. “When you get into a large ensemble, there’s a bit of a disconnect,” he said. “(But as a trio) you’re not relying on a conductor. You’re making music together. It’s an intimate (performance).”

Alongside that, the trio also aims to make chamber music accessible to everyone. Whistler audiences can expect plenty of good-natured bantering throughout the performance. “We weave in some good stories with the pieces,” Pelletier said. “Some groups will present program notes and people can read them for themselves. We try to weave those stories in.”

While classical music can sometimes feel formal, he added that the trio takes a lighter approach to performing. “A lot of the time with chamber music, part of it is more serious… there’s this disconnect with the audience and performance. Performers walk out silently on stage. We break down that wall; we try to have fun with the audience.”

In Whistler, their repertoire will range from Frédéric Chopin’s “Waltz in C# Minor” to “Tarantelle, Op. 6 for Flute, Clarinet and Piano” by Camille Saint-Saëns.

“Chamber music is the real experience,” Pelletier said. “You get to see music making — our ears have been so sanitized with the recording process. This is a chance to hear people making music together. That’s what’s so unique about it. You can hear the recital in Vancouver then in Whistler you hear different things.”

The group might be ramping up the number of shows they’re performing, but they also all have full-time jobs outside of music — and perform with other groups as well. “It’s a challenge,” Pelletier said. “But it’s one that we embrace. It’s the reality of being a freelance musician in a metropolitan area.”

Catch Trio Primario on Oct. 1 at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church at 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for youth. They can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Whistler Museum.

For more information about the Whistler Chamber Music Society’s 2017/18 season visit

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