Time for Three considers Sun Valley another home. Over the past eight years, they have returned again and again.
The trio (Nick Kendall and Charles Yang on violin and Ranaan Meyer on double bass) performs at the Argyros in Ketchum on Dec. 30 and 31. Old friends mezzo-soprano Kara Dugan and pianist Peter Dugan join them.
“We all have similar minds when it comes to how we approach music,” Kendall said. “We try to go outside the lines of genre.”
They have played together for over a decade.
“When the bond is friendships, it goes a lot deeper,” Kendall said.
They had a residency with the Sun Valley Music Festival back when it was the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, giving them a chance to work on new material. They have done outreach to local schools, helping them shape their own brand.
“It’s a community that we love very much,” Kendall said.
They get recognized by familiar faces hiking up Baldy or walking around town. They know the Starbucks baristas. They know all the spots to eat. Kendall’s favorite breakfast burrito is at KB’s. Meyer loves The Pioneer. The Dugans can be seen enjoying a burger at Grumpy’s.
“It’s a very special place for us,” Kendall said.
Recently, they scored Robin Wright’s directorial debut “Land.” A producer of the film saw them perform at a private show at a home in Sun Valley. She sent Wright a video, which the actor listened to in her trailer, on break while filming “House of Cards.” Wright said, “We found our music.”
Wright came to see them at the catacombs of a cathedral in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, an intimate show for about 20 people. The rest is history.
They composed, arranged and recorded 26 cues remotely, working 12 hours a day in their home studios.
Though their music is widely enjoyable, it can be difficult to pin down. They play classical instruments, but they infuse funk, bluegrass and jazz. The group refers to itself as a “classically trained garage band.” Meyer calls them “misfits of music.”
“We have to create our own home and find like-minded artists,” Meyer said.
Trained at a conservatory level, they have studied sophisticated theory you cannot fake. They know the history. They have learned all the chord changes. They understand the lineage over the centuries. They meet other musicians and draw on a wealth of knowledge. Open-mindedness empowers them to quest.
They are brought together by their longing for inspiration of emotion, character and storytelling. Constantly searching, they do not fear failing or worry about professionalism as they create new sounds with classical instruments. In about one out of every five rehearsals they strike gold, breaking through as a group on arrangements.
“It’s an explosion of happiness and joy,” Kendall said.
These musicians have performed at every venue imaginable: “Dancing With the Stars,” Carnegie Hall, Indianapolis Colts games, the San Francisco Symphony, on Broadway with Barbara Streisand and Aretha Franklin, the Czech Republic, Moscow, etc. Meyer keeps it interesting by constantly pushing himself.
“It’s hard for it to be anything but exciting,” he said.
Experiencing the world’s tapestry of food, routines and transit systems, from Vienna to the American South, Kendall says music is the common denominator that transcends cultural barriers.
“All of us are really blessed to have that opportunity,” he said. “That’s what keeps us going through these difficult times.”
One of his greatest joys is connecting with people by celebrating differences.
“Whatever genre it is, the only thing that really counts is if it has heart and if it’s sincere,” he said.
Performing on autopilot is one of their greatest fears. They strive to be present in the moment. To this day, they still get nerves before performing, that frenetic sensation of feeling alive.
“This is going to be really fresh and exciting and spontaneous,” Peter Dugan said.
He said there’s never a dull moment due to the piano’s versatility.
“My career brings me into all kinds of musical situations, so there’s a great deal of musical variety that I crave,” he said. “It keeps me busy because I’m constantly having to put on different hats.”
For Dugan, writing music provides a sense of relaxation and creative freedom. Late at night, he and Kara arrange, transcribing pop music to classical music or paring down a whole orchestra to solo piano, taking the voice they’ve developed over years of training, synthesizing it into the DNA of an already existing piece.
At the show, people will hear familiar songs in a new way.
Despite all their expertise, they will forever be students of music. Peter loves the Silk Sonic album. Kara and Meyer have both been blasting holiday music as of late. Kendall soothes his 8-month old baby by singing “Down by the River” from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” a song he used to perform with Peter.
Said Peter Dugan: “A lot of it is sitting down and letting your mind empty out and not putting any pressure on yourself to create anything and see what happens.”
As of press time, tickets for Thursday were sold out, but a few tickets were still available for Friday’s show. For more, go to theargyros.org. ￼