Ken Shifrin, a PhD in musicology from Oxford University, has visited
Bohemia and Moravia on several occasions under the auspices of the
Czech Academy of Sciences and the British Academy in order to explore
the archives of Czech churches which has led to valuable discoveries
documenting the fact that the alto trombone - especially as a partner
with voice in sacred arias - was a highly popular solo instrument
during the 18th century in the Czech Crown Lands.
However, Ken Shifrin does not limit his work to musicological research
alone, for he has brought to life the jewels that he has discovered
and has transformed them to concert form in an outstanding programme
of virtuoso experience as artistic director of the excellent English
group, Posaune Voce Trio, perhaps the only professional group of
Vojtech Stritesky, Artistic Director, International Smetana
combination of the trombonist Ken Shifrin with soprano plus piano
creates an outstanding mix, which was enthusiastically received
by the audience".
Milos Formacek, Director, Karlovy Vary [Karlsbad] Symphony
truly fantastic concert. Rarely have I seen an audience so enthused"
International Humanitarian Foundation
"The Trio was superb in all respects. The sheer professionalism
was a joy and the combination of three extraordinary talents served
to produce a performance which could not be bettered"
"The selection of the programme, which ranged from Emperor
Joseph to Glenn Miller and Gershwin, created an electric atmosphere.
What an overwhelming evening!" Austrian-American Institute
springs to mind when you think of the trombone – raucous,
rasping, roaring? It is one of those instruments that tends to suffer
from stereotyping. But the Posaune Voce Trio dispels this. “The
aim is for the trombone and the voice to sound like two voices,”
says artistic director Ken Shifrin. “During the Baroque Period,
in a pocket of Europe – mainly Austria and Bohemia –
the trombone was actually the favoured solo instrument with the
in 1994, Posaune Voce Trio comprises the unique blend of Shifrin
(alto and tenor trombone), Claire Hollocks (soprano) and Robert
Challinor (keyboard). They perform, as well as deliver masterclasses
and lecture recitals, on both sides of the Atlantic, and have appeared
at the International Smetana Festival, the Bratislava and Dresden
summer festivals, the Dvorak Festival as well as at venues in Vienna,
Prague, Budapest, Krakow and Washington, DC. Probably the only professional
full-time group of this combination, the Trio performs original
works – not transcriptions or arrangements – of the
likes of Leopold Mozart, Michael Haydn, Albrechtsberger, Tuma, Fux,
Caldara and Ziani, among others.
has recently completed a tour of Poland where it did first modern-day
performances of “new” baroque works which Shifrin (who
holds a PhD in musicology from Oxford University) uncovered during
research carried out in the archives of Vienna and Prague.
typical concert will consist of original repertoire for their instrumentation,
moving on to more modern music, such as Dixieland and jazz. “”We
decided very early on that we would need to do more than just baroque
music in order to appeal to a wider audience, which is why we developed
our “Baroque to Broadway” programme, “ says Shifrin.
An important factor for keeping the audience’s interest is
PVT’s frequent change of texture and focus,” adds Nigel
Pennington, the trio’s manager and longstanding friend of
Shifrin. “All of the members sing, at times in three-part
harmony; Claire plays violin on some works; Ken will perform a trombone
sonata with Robert and then Robert will play a solo piece by Handel
or “Jelly Roll” Morton; trombone and voice will do the
Flower Duet from Lakmé without piano accompaniment.
And then in the light music section there is a cabaret element and
frequent costume changes.”
PVT is so flexible and versatile, audiences, whether they are “sophisticated”
or not, recognise something special. “Claire has that rare
quality in which she is able to establish a rapport immediately
with an audience,” Ken says. “Rob gives the group the
sound of a threesome, rather than two soloists being accompanied
by the keyboard.” Ken, who introduces the works, is always
a big hit with the audiences with his playing as well as witty humour
(he can tell jokes in German and Czech).
is obvious to audiences straight away that the trombone and voice
blend well. “We always say there is a “gotcha”
moment with our audiences”, remarks Ken.
them get you soon.