Oxford Piano Trio Celebrates 30 Years of Performance, Friendship

UM professors and longtime collaborators retiring this year

UM music faculty members Robert Riggs (left), Stacy Rodgers and Sue Gaston perform Monday night at Nutt Auditorium as the Oxford Piano Trio.

OXFORD, Miss. – When they take the stage Monday evening as Oxford Piano Trio, violinist Robert Riggs, pianist Stacy Rodgers and cellist Sue Gaston will have history – as well as music – on their minds.

The Oxford Piano Trio performs the work of Schubert, Rachmaninoff and Eric Ewazen at 7:30 p.m. Monday (Feb. 11) in Nutt Auditorium at the University of Mississippi.

Friends and collaborators for decades, the trio, all faculty members in the UM Department of Music, will perform work that reminds of them of their earliest days together and contemporary work that points toward the future.

“The Schubert B-flat Trio may have been one of the first works we performed 30 years ago in the spring of 1989,” Rodgers said. “It is a hugely popular work. You get the form, polish and clarity of detail of Classicism, as well as beautiful melodies and unexpected turns of harmony that were coming into vogue with Romanticism.”

“Our program features three very contrasting works,” Riggs said. “The Schubert Trio, as would be expected by a great composer of songs, is a joyous exploration of lyrical melodies.

“The single-movement Rachmaninoff Trio is a late romantic tone painting with elegiac sentiments, and the upbeat ‘Diamond World’ by the American, Eric Ewazen, will conclude the concert with a hint of popular dance music.”

Ewazen’s “Diamond World” is “firmly rooted in the late 20th century, but is not at all what people might expect,” Rodgers said.

“At times, it is gorgeously melodic with slowly unfolding melodies, but then Ewazen will double the tempo, pitting a pounding rhythm in the piano against jazz-inflected syncopations tossed back and forth between the violin and cello. An exciting piece and a fitting end to the program.”

Coincidentally, all three of these esteemed music faculty members are retiring in June.

“After 30 years at Ole Miss, we will all be retired by next season, but we will still want to make music,” Riggs said. “This will not be our final performance.”

“One of the great pleasures of my tenure at Ole Miss has been playing with the Oxford Piano Trio,” Gaston agreed. “I couldn’t have asked for better colleagues, musicians and friends.”

“We have had immense fun over the years, exploring new repertoire and sharing what we have discovered with audiences,” Rodgers added. “There is nothing better than playing great music with great friends!”

Tickets to Oxford Piano Trio’s recital are $10, $5 for children and those with an Ole Miss ID, and are available at the UM Box Office and at the door. Proceeds support the music department’s outreach and programming.