January 20, 2011  |  Music

In a bustling musical city like Los Angeles, we do not work in a bubble. The musical community is very small and close-knit — especially the community of chamber music ensembles. We’d like to spend some time introducing you to some of our musical friends who we meet out on the performance trail. This week: Vientos Trio.

The Vientos Trio has been on our radar for quite some time. I first met the group’s oboist, Ryan Zwahlen, when we playing the Nutcracker together a few years ago. He and I kept in touch, and when it ended up that we both had woodwind trios, we knew we had to keep track of one another!

Now, Vientos is very different from Third Wheel in a lot of ways, but of course we have all of the important things in common: wonderful musicians, fun personalities, innovative performances, and a dedication to playing music written by living composers.

The fact that Vientos uses an oboe instead of a flute is the biggest obvious difference, and it makes a big difference in the group’s sound. (The other two members of the group play clarinet and bassoon, just like Third Wheel.) Having three instruments together that all use reeds of some kind allows for a┬áhomogeneous sound that is truly unique.

The clarinetist for Vientos, Jennifer Stevenson, is also a talented composer. Her creative streak goes much farther than just writing music, however; she also has a gift for storytelling and often incorporates these stories into her compositions. This is a perfect skill for the performances that Vientos does for young audiences. They’re called Musical Adventures and they do a wonderful job of teaching kids about music while entertaining them with fun stories. Here’s one from the “Dunley Rabbit, PI” series:

But Jennifer’s sense of whimsy doesn’t just apply to children. She’s great with concocting music stories for adults, too. Check out this performance to see what I mean — it’s a hilarious piece called “Obois Domesticus.”

Third Wheel has shared many performances venues with the Vientos Trio, just not at the same time. We frequently find ourselves on the listing of the same concert series but rarely actually get to meet. We hope to invite the Vientos Trio to perform on a concert with us in the very near future! What’s the good of having musical friends if you can’t share a stage every now and then?