UNCSA presents Warp Trio in a cross-genre chamber music experience, April 8

The School of Music at UNCSA presents the freewheeling Warp Trio in a genre-bending concert fusing classical, jazz and more on Saturday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m., in Watson Hall on the UNCSA campus (1533 S. Main St.).

Tickets, $20 for adults and $15 for students with valid ID, are available online or by calling the box office at 336-721-1945. The concert will also be livestreamed (with registration) as part of Live From Watson Hall.

Featuring UNCSA alumnus Mikael Darmanie (B.M. Music ’09) on piano, Josh Henderson on violin and viola, Ju Young Lee on cello, and Rick Martinez on percussion, the one-of-a-kind Warp Trio has electrified audiences worldwide with distinctive, genre-defying sounds.

Warp Trio will play original compositions, music by other contemporary composers, jazz standards including Duke Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Wave,” and “a piece that explores the links between Bach and the avant-garde jazz of New York today,” Darmanie said. “In our own ‘Warp’ way, of course.”

Warp Trio members have been working together for about seven years, and all perform with other groups, playing multiple genres of music from classical to rap.

Darmanie, who was raised in Red Springs, near Lumberton, credits his interdisciplinary experiences at UNCSA with his ability to collaborate with filmmakers, rappers, rockers and dancers. Besides Warp Trio, he is working with Bobbi Jene Smith (HS Dance ’02), another UNCSA alum, on a multimedia production called “Broken Theatre” that is having a 10-day run April 20-30 at La Mama in New York City.

Mikael Darmanie

Mikael Darmanie

“It’s a piano trio with dancers and actors, and it’s one of the most beautiful expressions of art you can see,” Darmanie said. “In that piece, my role as pianist is primary, as usual, but I also have to move around and dance. In a way, it’s a summation of what I learned at UNCSA about collaborating with other artists.”

Darmanie said that he is looking forward to revisiting UNCSA with his professional ensemble. He spent a summer and his high school sophomore year at UNCSA, then left for a couple of years before returning to get his college education.

Discovering the UNCSA music library was like finding a treasure trove for him.

“I would check out more books than I could carry,” he said. “The complete works of Rachmaninoff, the Beethoven sonatas, everything.

“As I teach more and more, I like learning how to respond to the individual student instead of squeezing everybody into a methodology.”

Now based in New York City, Josh Henderson, violin and viola, grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and in Nashville. Having played with cellist Ju Young Lee since they were both teenagers, Henderson has some good insights into how chamber musicians manage to communicate and collaborate so effectively.

“Everyone is leading in different ways all the time,” Henderson said. “You end up knowing the pieces from the inside out, and you can communicate with each other without the benefit of words or text.

“There are physical motions – body language – and physical expression, but also vibes, timing, and feeling the pulse of the music together.

“Rick, our percussionist, is always great. He’s the time guy. As the drummer, he is communicating for nuance and responding to the other members, and we all adjust.”

Warp Trio, with its jazz influences, incorporates a lot of improvisation into its performances.

“With any Beethoven or Mozart, there is still room for improvisation, and you always want to keep the communication open to keep it fresh and spontaneous,” Henderson said. “We’ll play the same thing in Cleveland that we play in North Carolina, but it will sound completely different.”

Drummer Martinez studied percussion at Baltimore’s prestigious Peabody Conservatory and has a bachelor’s degree from New York University. Cellist Lee is a graduate of The Juilliard School.

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March 21, 2023