The Merling Trio

Renata Artman Knific, Violin
Bruce Uchimura, Cello
Susan Wiersma Uchimura, Piano

Merling Trio Photo: Female pianist sitting on a yellow couch with female violinist and male cellist behindCelebrating their 30th season with original members, the Merling Trio has long been recognized as one of today’s premier ensembles. A truly international trio, it brings together musicians from Polish, Japanese, and Dutch backgrounds. The Merling Trio has been hailed as a brilliantly distinguished group endowed with remarkable gifts of communication, magnificent precision, and an impeccable blend of sound. The trio made its New York debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1993, and was named a finalist for the Naumburg Foundation Chamber Music Award in 1994. Since then, their distinguished career has included performances in 44 states, Canada, Europe, and China.

Members of the Trio have performed with orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, and the South Carolina Philharmonic, under the baton of such notable conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Simon Rattle, and Christoph Eschenbach. Recent trio performances include concerts for the Lagerstrom Concerts Series at Caltech, the Texas Friends of Chamber Music Series, the Jewel Box Series in Chicago, the Charleston Chamber Music Society, Merkin Hall, and the China Conservatory in Beijing. Performances by the Merling Trio have been broadcast widely on television and radio, including WNYC, WFMT 98.7 in Chicago, Interlochen Public Radio, and Peachstate Public Radio. The 2017-18 season will include tours of Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Georgia, and Florida, as well as the trio’s first tour to Mexico.

The trio is committed to bridging the gap between classical music and other genres. In 2017, the trio joined with Chicago composer Gene Knific for their innovative project, “The Merling Trio Performs the Great American Songbook”. This cycle features brilliant arrangements of the greatest composers of the genre, such as Duke Ellington, Henry Mancini, Burt Bacharach, and Harold Arlen. For their newest groundbreaking project, the Merling will be collaborating with the Bach Festival of Kalamazoo to commission arrangements of Bach works in jazz format from composers Gene Knific, Tom Knific, and Adam Schumaker, to be premiered in June of 2018.

In residence at the School of Music at Western Michigan University, members of the trio have also been faculty members at the Schlern International Music Festival and the ENCORE School for Strings. Renowned educators, their students hold positions in major orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the world. Festival appearances include the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Pensacola Summer Music Festival, the Skaneateles Festival, the Saugatuck Chamber Music Festival, and the Fontana Festival of Art and Music. Recent educational outreach activities include performances and master classes for the California Music Teachers Association, the Music Teachers National Association, the Hawaii International Arts and Humanities Conference, and the Nevada School of the Arts. . Current summer festival positions for the trio include the Orfeo Music Festival in Italy, Cello an American Experience in Minnesota, and the Aria International Summer Academy in Massachusetts.

The Merling Trio has released a number of critically-acclaimed recordings. Their first CD, a collaboration with conductor Dennis Russell Davies, featured works of C. Curtis-Smith and was released by Albany Records in 1995. About the CD, Fanfare wrote, “The composer could not ask for better interpreters.” Piano Trio Classics included works by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, and Liszt and was released by Pamplin Records in 2001.  About Centaur Records’ 2006 release of the trio’s recording of works by Piazzolla and Proto, the American Record Guide said, “The Merlings play with a properly stylistic balance between abandon and control.  This is an unusual and beautifully played program.”  2013’s “Postcards in E” features works of Shostakovich and Dvorak, and was issued on the MSR Classics label to rave reviews. The “Great American Songbook” project is due to be released in 2018.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer said, “The players shaped a grand interpretation, fluent in rhythm and rich in romantic feeling.” The Grand Rapids Press has said, “The trio…delivered a standard of playing that is on par with some of the best known violin-cello-piano teams, captivating the audience through the immediacy and extraordinary sensitivity of its playing.” The London Musical Opinion declared that the Merling Trio “made a powerful impression, with unabashed romanticism and finesse.”

The Merling Trio takes its name from the Danish violin maker, Paul Merling.  Currently, Mr. Uchimura performs on an Enrico Marchetti cello, made in Turin, Italy, in 1899.  Ms. Knific’s violin, fashioned by Vincenzo Postiglione in Naples, Italy, dates from 1898.

Music samples

Mvt. 3 - Presto (MP3)
from Trio in G Major, Hob. XV:25, by Franz Joseph Haydn

Mvt. 2 - Andante grazioso (MP3)
from Trio in C minor, Op. 101, by Johannes Brahms

Mvt. 2 - Allegretto (MP3)
from Trio in G Major, K.496, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Quietly Joyous (MP3)
from Second Piano Trio by C. Curtis Smith

Primary contact

Susan Wiersma Uchimura

Merling Trio website