Erika Nickrenz, piano
Sara Parkins, violin
Sara Sant'Ambrogio, cello
The most sought-after trio in the world, the Grammy®-nominated Eroica Trio thrills audiences with flawless technical virtuosity, irresistible enthusiasm and sensual elegance. Whether playing the great standards of the piano trio repertoire or daring contemporary works, the three young women who make up this celebrated ensemble electrify the concert stage with their passionate performances. The New York Times writes, “They play chamber music for the concert hall. There is an edge of the seat intensity to every note they produce”. The Trio won the prestigious Naumburg Award, resulting in a highly successful Lincoln Center debut and has since toured the United States, Europe, and Asia. While maintaining their demanding concert schedule, the Eroica Trio has released eight critically lauded recordings for Angel/EMI Classics Records, garnering multiple Grammy® nominations.
The unique history of the players of the Eroica Trio goes all of the way back to their childhoods. Their first connection was made when ‘cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio and pianist Erika Nickrenz were just 12 years old. Sara’s father, John Sant’Ambrogio, then principal ‘cellist of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, was being recorded by Erika’s mother, Grammy Award winning record producer Joanna Nickrenz. This working relationship led to Erika joining Sara at her family’s music camp in the Berkshire Mountains, Red Fox, where Erika studied piano with Sara’s grandmother, Isabelle Sant’Ambrogio, a renowned pianist and pedagogue.
The trio’s musical connection continued when, a few years later, Sara decided to strike out on her own and attend renowned music camp Meadowmount. There she met, played and became fast friends with violinist Sara Parkins. After playing together that summer, Sant’Ambrogio was invited to finish High School at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and Parkins was accepted to attend Juilliard Pre-College where she met and started playing with Erika. Later, Parkins decided to join Sant’Ambrogio at Curtis where they happily renewed their personal and musical friendship. After a year as roommates and musical collaborators, Sant’Ambrogio was invited to attend Juilliard where she resumed playing with Erika.
A few years later, Sara Parkins and Erika Nickrenz reunited at the Tanglewood Music Festival. That same year the Eroica Trio was formed at the Juilliard School. This intricate web of early connections helped forge a lifelong bond between the three women of the Eroica Trio. Their deeply personal, passionate music-making and uncanny ensemble and chemistry onstage have thrilled audiences world wide.
The Eroica Trio performs the Beethoven Triple Concerto more frequently than any other trio in the world, having appeared with renowned symphonies such as Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Mostly Mozart Orchestra, Nashville, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Houston, New Jersey and Seattle. In addition, The Trio has performed the work abroad with Orquesta Sinfonica de Euskadi in Spain, Haydn Orchestra in Italy, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Budapest Symphony in Germany, and on multiple tours in the United States with the Cincinnati Symphony as well as with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, culminating in a Lincoln Center performance. The Eroica Trio’s recording of the Beethoven Triple with the Prague Chamber Orchestra was so successful it landed this piece on Billboards Top 20 for the first time in recording history. The Trio appeared on the German television program "Klassich!" performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Munich Symphony, which was aired throughout Europe. This season, they toured North America with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Fabio Luisi, culminating in a performance on the “Great Performers at Lincoln Center” series in Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
The Eroica Trio is on the vanguard of a new generation of artists who are changing the face of classical music. The first all-female chamber ensembles to reach the top echelon of its field, the Eroica Trio broke an age-old gender barrier. As the Chicago Sun Times remarked, "Our image of the piano trio is largely formed by groups like the celebrated [original] Beaux Arts, three middle-aged gentlemen who apply their wisdom and artistry to their chosen repertory. That image is about to change." The Trio took its name from Beethoven's passionate Third Symphony. Italian for "heroic," eroica is a word that aptly reflects the ensemble's approach to music. As critics have noted, "It's been decades since this country has produced a chamber music organization with this much passion." (The San Francisco Examiner)
The Trio has established a unique identity by creating innovative programs that span 300 years of music. A typical Eroica Trio concert might include the Baroque symmetries of Vivaldi, the passion of Brahms, and Mark O’Connor’s Bluegrass and rock-a-billy ode to Johnny Cash, “Poets and Prophets” which was written for them. The Eroica Trio is a strong champion of new composers; each season includes an American or world premiere of a new work. Recently, the Trio premiered a new Triple Concerto by the American wunderkind Jay Greenberg and the world premiere of a work by acclaimed American composer, Kevin Puts, commissioned by Music Accord. Whatever the repertoire, “the Eroica’s artistry is powerful enough that it could play the back of a cereal box and make it compelling.” (The Charleston Gazette)
As the official representative for New York's Carnegie Hall, the Eroica Trio opened the sold-out "Distinctive Debuts" series at Weill Recital Hall. This touring series, created to showcase rising stars of classical music, was internationally sponsored by a consortium of European halls and included performances at Konzerthaus in Vienna, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonie in Cologne, Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Symphony Hall at ICC in Birmingham, and Konserthus in Stockholm. The Eroica's performances were received with rave reviews. "The Trio plays with technical flair, raw, driven energy and high spirits. The ensemble also has plenty of charm and stage presence. It was obvious that all three musicians were having as much fun as the [Carnegie Hall] audience." (The Wall Street Journal)
Immediately following its acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut, the Eroica Trio was offered an exclusive five-record contract by EMI Classics Records, which was extended in 2002 to include three additional recordings. The Trio's self-titled debut CD, which features works by Ravel, Benjamin Godard, a commissioned arrangement of the Gershwin Preludes, and Paul Schoenfield's Café Music, was awarded NPR Performance Today's "Debut Recording of the Year" and featured in Time Out New York's "Top Ten Recordings". The ensemble's second disc, "Dvorak/Shostakovich/Rachmaninoff", concentrates on the works of those composers, as well as the Trio's own arrangement of Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, and was nominated for two Grammy® Awards. The New York Times noted: "Eroica's musicians have the muscle to be purely dramatic and emotional, but here they stand out for subtler reasons: all three players are soloists who have a lot to say, and every note, no matter how light, has some significance." The Eroica Trio's critically acclaimed third recording, "Baroque" spent the first nine months after its release in the top 20 on Billboard's charts. "Baroque" includes works by Bach, Vivaldi and the Eroica Trio's own arrangement of Albinoni's Adagio. The ensemble's next album, "Pasión" features Argentinean, Brazilian and Spanish composers, including Piazzolla, Villa-Lobos and Turina. The Trio's fifth album for EMI Classics Records, "Brahms Trios Nos. 1 & 2" was released to great critical acclaim “This is a hugely stirring recording, full of strength and soul. It’s very romantic very lush but well within bounds (that is, Brahmsian bounds). Over the past several weeks, I have found it hard to stop listening to this CD.” (The National Review). This disc features the composer's lullaby arranged for piano trio by Sara Sant'Ambrogio. The Trio's sixth recording for EMI, "Beethoven's Triple Concerto Op. 56 and Piano Trio Op. 11" was recorded with the Prague Chamber Orchestra. The release came just prior to a four-week coast-to-coast tour of the United States with that celebrated ensemble. The Trio’s most recent album, An American Journey, was acclaimed by NPR “One of the Best CD’s of 2008”. It features new arrangements of music from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" and Bernstein's "West Side Story" commissioned by the Eroica. Also on the CD is Mark O'Connor's "Poets and Prophets", written for Eroica and inspired by the music of Johnny Cash.
In addition to its demanding concert and recording schedule, the Eroica Trio is committed to music education, giving concerts, master classes and special children's shows at schools and colleges throughout the country. The trio feels so strongly about the benefits of music that they have performed at homeless shelters, senior centers and prisons to bring the music to people who might not normally have the chance to hear live performances. Each summer, the Trio performs at music festivals throughout the world, including the Hollywood Bowl, Aspen, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, and Spoleto, Italy.
The Eroica Trio has appeared on numerous television programs, including ABC's The View, CNN's Showbiz Today, CBS and ABC News, the CBS Morning Show and Saturday Morning, A&E's Breakfast with the Arts, The Isaac Mizrahi Show, Pure Oxygen, Bloomberg TV and Fox's The Crier Report. In addition, the ladies will be featured in the international broadcast of The Artists' Way At Work, an in-depth exploration of artistic creativity. Eroica!, a special documentary about the Trio and its commissioning of a new triple concerto by Kevin Kaska, premiered on the PBS series Independent Lens and has had multiple airings worldwide.
The group has been featured in such magazines as Elle, Glamour, Vanity Fair, Detour, Marie Claire, Gotham, Entrée, Bon Appétit, Time Out New York, Gramophone, Piano, Vivace, Auditorium, and Chamber Music. In addition, the ladies have graced the covers of magazines as diverse as Fanfare, Cigar, Strings, Tall, and Strad. Grand Marnier®created a new cocktail dubbed "The Eroica" which was unveiled for the release of the "Pasión" recording. Chateau Sainte Michelle, a vineyard in Seattle, also named one of their vintage Rieslings in honor of the Trio.