The Merling Trio

Photo of the Merling Trio members, Renata Artman Knific, Bruce Uchimura and Susan Wiersma Uchimura.Renata Artman Knific, Violin
Bruce Uchimura, Cello
Susan Wiersma Uchimura, Piano

The Merling Trio is recognized as one of today’s premier ensembles. A truly international trio, it brings together musicians from Polish, Japanese, and Dutch backgrounds. The Merling Trio has been hailed as a brilliantly distinguished group endowed with remarkable gifts of communication, magnificent precision, and an impeccable blend of sound. The trio made its New York debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1993, and was named a finalist for the Naumburg Foundation Chamber Music Award in 1994.

The Merling Trio has given numerous recitals throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Members of the Trio have performed with orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, and the South Carolina Philharmonic, under the baton of such notable conductors as Daniel Barenboim, Simon Rattle, and Christoph Eschenbach. Recent trio performances include concerts for the Lagerstrom Concerts Series at Caltech, Texas Friends of Chamber Music Series, Jewel Box Series in Chicago, Charleston Chamber Music Society, Merkin Hall, and the Antioch College Professional Piano Series. Performances by the Merling Trio have been broadcast widely on television and radio, including WNYC, WFMT 98.7 in Chicago, Interlochen Public Radio, and Peachstate Public Radio. The 2013–14 season will include tours to Arkansas, Missouri, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Iowa, California, and Nevada.

Several contemporary composers have written works for the Merling Trio, and in 1993, they commissioned and premiered C. Curtis-Smith’s “Second Piano Trio.” In February 1998, the trio returned to Carnegie Hall for a sold-out performance of a new work by Terry Winter-Owens, commissioned by the Merling Trio with a Commissioning Grant from the American Composers Forum. In 2003, the trio premiered Frank Proto’s “Quartet for Piano and Strings” with bassist Tom Knific at St. John’s Smith Square in London, England. The trio performed the complete piano trios of C. Curtis-Smith for a gala concert at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in 2010. The 2013 season saw a premiere of the trio’s newest commission, “Piano Trio No. 2,” from San Francisco composer Peter Scott Lewis.

In residence at the School of Music at Western Michigan University, members of the trio have also been faculty members at the Schlern International Music Festival and the ENCORE School for Strings. Renowned educators, their students hold positions in major orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the world. Festival appearances include the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Pensacola Summer Music Festival, the Skaneateles Festival, the Saugatuck Chamber Music Festival, and the Fontana Festival of Art and Music. Recent educational outreach activities include performances and master classes for the California Music Teachers Association, Music Teachers National Association, Hawaii International Arts and Humanities Conference, and the American String Teachers Association National Conference. Current summer festival positions for the trio include the Orfeo Music Festival in Italy, Cello: an American Experience in Minnesota, and the Aria International Summer Academy in Massachusetts.

The Merling Trio has released a number of critically-acclaimed recordings. Their first CD, a collaboration with conductor Dennis Russell Davies, featured works of C. Curtis-Smith and was released by Albany Records in 1995. About the CD, Fanfare wrote, “The composer could not ask for better interpreters.” “Piano Trio Classics” included works by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, and Liszt and was released by Pamplin Records in 2001.  About Centaur Records’ 2006 release of the trio’s recording of works by Piazzolla and Proto, the American Record Guide said, “The Merlings play with a properly stylistic balance between abandon and control. This is an unusual and beautifully played program.” Their most recent recording, “postcards in e,” features works of Shostakovich and Dvorak, and was issued on the MSR Classics label to rave reviews.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer said, “The players shaped a grand interpretation, fluent in rhythm and rich in romantic feeling.” The Grand Rapids Press has said, “The trio…delivered a standard of playing that is on par with some of the best known violin-cello-piano teams, captivating the audience through the immediacy and extraordinary sensitivity of its playing.” The London Musical Opinion declared that the Merling Trio “made a powerful impression, with unabashed romanticism and finesse.”

The Merling Trio takes its name from the Danish violin maker, Paul Merling. Currently, Uchimura performs on an Enrico Marchetti cello, made in Turin, Italy, in 1899. Knific’s violin, fashioned by Vincenzo Postiglione in Naples, Italy, dates from 1898.

Music samples

Mvt. 3 - Presto (MP3)
from Trio in G Major, Hob. XV:25, by Franz Joseph Haydn

Mvt. 2 - Andante grazioso (MP3)
from Trio in C minor, Op. 101, by Johannes Brahms

Mvt. 2 - Allegretto (MP3)
from Trio in G Major, K.496, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Quietly Joyous (MP3)
from Second Piano Trio by C. Curtis Smith

Primary contact

Susan Wiersma Uchimura

Merling Trio website