TAMPA — Anyone who thinks classical musicians are stodgy should hear Time for Three, the guest artists this weekend in pops concerts by the Florida Orchestra. It's a youthful string trio made up of violinists Zach De Pue and Nick Kendall and double bassist Ranaan Meyer, who got together as students at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and developed a mix of styles incorporating everything from Bach to bluegrass. It is a blast to hear virtuosos like them kick out the jams.
The group had a quick turnaround this week, playing Thursday night in Waterloo, Ontario, then coming here for Friday's concert at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's Ferguson Hall. But that didn't faze the threesome as they launched into a haunting Shenandoah that eventually segued into the down-and-dirty Philly Phunk, driven by Meyer's forceful, jazzy bass.
With Richard Kaufman conducting, the orchestra meshed well with Time for Three, especially on a sensational run through Leroy Anderson's Fiddle-Faddle. The orchestra on its own played the Sigmund Romberg Celebration, a snappy medley of tunes by the early 20th century composer of Broadway operettas, arranged by Thomas Worrall.
Time for Three's performance of American Suite, composed by Meyer with orchestration by John B. Hedges, had the feel of a classic, from its opening movement based on a European folk dance to the finale, a fancy-fiddling homage to Florida's most famous train, the Orange Blossom Special.
Time for Three's closest forerunner in the crossover field is probably the combination of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, double bassist Edgar Meyer (no relation to Ranaan Meyer) and violinist Mark O'Connor, whose album Appalachia Waltz was a bestseller. I wouldn't be surprised if these guys from Philadelphia have the same kind of success.
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716.