String trio Time for Three pushes bounds of classical music

It’s kind of like roughhousing in the living room when you were a kid.

The violin savant on the other end of the phone is explaining as much.

It’s a Friday afternoon, and Nick Kendall, having just escaped the wintry confines of Minnesota for Florida on tour, is breaking down what it’s like to be a classically trained musician with one foot planted inside that world and one foot outside of it — like, in another ZIP code.

Kendall is one-third of Time for Three, a deliberately hard-to-pigeonhole combo consisting of two violinists, a double bassist and lots of scrambled expectations.

In addition to composing their own songs, they’ve made names for themselves with classical arrangements of hits by Kanye West, Calvin Harris and scads more, as well as inventive mashups that pair the works of, say, Guns N’ Roses with Gustav Mahler.

This is the core of Time for Three: the merging of a classical musician’s formal training with the informal fun of rocking out to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” with your buddies.

“It’s like the idea that as a kid, you’re never really allowed to play in the living room because that was always the place where adults hang out, but any time you did get a chance to play in there, it was super exciting and special, because it was proper,” Kendall says. “It’s like that when people see classical musicians: There’s a respect there because they know there’s a mastery there, but they love it when they’re having fun.”

It all began when they were kids, really: Think of the studiousness required to be an aspiring chamber musician, then think of how little that might resonate with your Nirvana-loving classmates.

There’s a chasm there, one that Time for Three was literally born to bridge.

“It goes back to middle school to high school. We were so focused on something that wasn’t necessarily popular among our friends, but in order to be popular, we started doing arrangements of stuff that was being listened to by everybody,” Kendall says. “It was a way to just be accepted into the crowd. I don’t want to say that we were trying to dumb stuff down or anything, but it was a way to make connections.”

Eventually, they’d all connect with each other.

Unexpected origins

Time for Three came to life in impromptu fashion, when Kendall, double bassist Ranaan Meyer and violinist Zachary DePue (who left the band in 2015, eventually being replaced by Charles Yang) started jamming together when they were students at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.

“When we started this thing, we were just messing around,” Kendall says. “We were intensely working on these symphonies or the solo (repertoire), which takes so much concentration. We would literally just jam together at the conservatory. It was a way to blow off steam, but still within the creative spirit.

“None of us thought that it would become our career and something that people would pay money to come see us play — especially our parents,” he continues. “When we were first getting this off the ground, we’re getting calls from agents and concert bookers. We couldn’t believe it.”

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind ever since.

After officially forming in 2003, Time for Three would go on to perform everywhere from Carnegie Hall to ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” releasing five albums, equally at home playing with the vaunted Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and San Francisco Symphony, to name but a few, or in rock clubs on their own.

They are something of a gateway act, capable of luring nontraditional classical music fans to their performances because of their nontraditional take on classical music — just don’t brand them with the dreaded “C”-word.

“ ‘Crossover,’ first of all, it sounds like a disease. We hate that word,” Kendall says. “Crossover was a way to do a new kind of business, for record companies to take an artist from one genre and try to get new fans, so they’d put out something that’s fake.

“But for us, we feel like we reflect a lot of this generation’s new artists who are coming from classical music, who all went to public school, we have the internet and are listening to all sorts of music,” he continues. “We’re making this new music utilizing every bit of technique, knowledge and practice that comes from playing the violin.”

Show-stoppers

Time for Three has developed a reputation for its fiery yet personable live performances, where Kendall and company dress casually in T-shirts, share stories about their songs and then let it rip on cue.

It was one of the group’s sets last year at The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz that especially impressed Las Vegas Philharmonic music director Donato Cabrera.

“That was the final exclamation point of, ‘We need to bring their show to the Las Vegas Philharmonic,’ ” Cabrera says. “It was so inspiring. They are really, really cool.”

For Cabrera, a group such as Time for Three challenges the assumptions of what it means to be a classically-trained musician.

“They’re an expression of what we all are,” Cabrera says. “We’re so quick to put every artist in a box. ‘You sing country.’ ‘You play jazz.’ In fact, when you get to know musicians of all stripes, we all love everything. So what I’m so excited about is that this helps break down these barriers, these imaginary walls that we’ve put up for ourselves and that people think we have.”

Speaking of breaking down barriers, Kendall notes that he and his bandmates have been focused on doing that within their own repertoire of late. Ever since being joined by Yang, who’s also a talented singer, the group has been pushing its sound in new directions, going to Nashville and collaborating with Liz Rose, who’s best known for writing a number of songs on Taylor Swift’s first two records.

Their Wikipedia page continues to describe them as a “classically trained garage band.” But it might be time for an edit on that one.

“Honestly, man, ‘classically trained garage band’ is a tag that we don’t like,” Kendall says. “We’re focused less on doing mashups and more on writing our own original stuff. Yes, we love the art form, and every bit of phrasing or any riff that we come up with comes from all of that.

“But we’re not a classical band — and we’re not, not a classical band,” he adds. “We’re Time for Three.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door and Banksy art in Las Vegas
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door, Banksy art in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hazel in Las Vegas serves modern takes on traditional cocktails
Hazel serves modern takes on traditional cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas celebrates St. Patrick's Day
Tonight the city lit the Welcome sign green, McMullan's Irish Pub and the Guinness store also prepare for this weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Reuben sandwich at Served in Henderson, near Las Vegas
Matthew Meyer, chef/owner of Served, makes a Reuben sandwich with house-brined corned beef, house-made sauerkraut and gooey melted cheese at his restaurant in Henderson, outside Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas day club season returns with big-name DJs
Rick Ross, March 23, at Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay The Chainsmokers, March 30, at Encore Beach Club Marshmello, April 6, Kaos Dayclub at the Palms Chuckie, May 11, Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Calvin Harris, May 11, Wet Republic at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Pizza expert Chris Bianco makes meatballs in Las Vegas
Chris Bianco, who was the keynote speaker at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, demonstrates meatball making for expo attendees. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas pulmonologist talks about new movie dealing with cystic fibrosis
Dr. Craig Nakamura, Director of Cystic Fibrosis Center of Southern Nevada, talks about the upcoming romantic drama “Five Feet Apart” where both of the lead characters suffer from cystic fibrosis. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
World Pizza Champion crowned in Las Vegas
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Italian pizzaiolo Federico De Silvestri took the top prize and more than $12,000. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Italian wins Pizza Maker of the Year at Pizza Expo
Federico De Silvestri of Verona, Italy, wins the finals in the non-traditional pizza category during the International Pizza Challenge at the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center Thursday, March 7, 2019. De Silvestri went on to beat winners from each of the four other categories — traditional, pan, pizza Napoletana and Roman — to win Pizza Maker of the Year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Good Pie Coming To Arts District
Local pizzaiolo Vincent Rotolo says Good Pie is coming to the Arts District. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local comedian says "It's ok to laugh, ...the comedy club is dark."
K-Von, a half-Persian comedian, talks about his style of comedy which keeps audiences entertained.
Pizza Dough Throwing Competition
Contestants participate in the World Pizza Games at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Wednesday night. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
World Pizza Games showcased in Las Vegas
The World Pizza Games, part of the International Pizza Expo, drew competitors from all over the world to Las Vegas to compete in events such as dough stretching and box folding. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Pizza competitors dazzle at international expo
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included the first rounds of the World Pizza Games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas showcases products and trends
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, vegan and gluten-free menu choices and compostable packaging were highlighted, as well as Detroit-style and Roman-style pizza. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about a new restaurant
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about the construction of his new restaurant at Fremont Street’s Fergusons Downtown complex in downtown Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum lights up the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign
The Neon Museum in Las Vegas flipped the switch on its latest acquisition Monday night, the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
A Taste of Eataly Las Vegas
Executive Chef Nicole Brisson gives a tour around Eataly Las Vegas, located in the Park MGM. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Towering triple decker sandwich at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas
Jonah Resnick, executive chef of Sadelle’s, the newest restaurant at Bellagio in Las Vegas, serves a daunting concoction of roast beef layered with house-made cole slaw, turkey and more cole slaw, on rye bread. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Paris Las Vegas Debuts New Eiffel Tower Light Show
The Paris in Las Vegas unveiled its latest Eiffel Tower light show, Wednesday evening. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video: Las Vegas Omelet House Marks 40th anniversary
Omelet House at Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive in Las Vegas, which opened in 1979, is a locals’ favorite, known for fluffy six-egg omelets. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves readying new beer
Ryan Reaves, a forward with the Golden Knights, has plans for a second beer, a lager, through his 7Five Brewing Co. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Adds Lady Gaga To The Fountain Playlist
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has been added to the rotation of classic tunes played for the dancing waters at Lake Bellagio. The song debuted at 6 p.m. Monday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Comedian uses laughter to bring understanding about AIDS
Comedian Brandon Cox Sanford talks about how he uses his comedy sketches to bring light to his AIDS diagnosis. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas
Sasha Rincon-Camacho, regional marketing director, talks about the 20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Meow Wolf opening an 'otherworldly' art experience in Las Vegas
Meow Wolf opening "otherworldly" art experience in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New caneles pastries served at tea at Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas
Tony Gauthier, executive pastry chef at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, was trained to make caneles in Bordeaux in his native France, and they’re a new feature on the hotel’s afternoon tea. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Yard House margarita changes color in the glass
The cocktail, as made by lead bartender Taylor Cole at Town Square in Las Vegas, changes from deep blue to magenta because of a chemical reaction between its butterfly pea flowers and citrus agave. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing