Boreal Trio performs Jan. 25 for Camerata Musica series

Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 16, 2014 

Members of the Boreal Trio are, from left, Juan-Miguel Hernandez, Wonny Song and Uriel Vanchestein.


The next Camerata Musica concert brings the Boreal Trio to town for an extraordinary evening of music featuring clarinet, viola and piano.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. Jan. 25 in the Battelle Auditorium, on Battelle Boulevard off George Washington Way in Richland. Admission is free.

The trio is made up of Juan-Miguel Hernandez on viola, Wonny Song on piano and Uriel Vanchestein on clarinet.

Hernandez and Vanchestein met in 1996 while attending the same musical high school in Montreal.

"We quickly became close friends, spending many of our spare hours improvising and listening to classical music," Hernandez told the Herald in an email. "This friendship led us to form this unusual but charming trio comprising the clarinet, viola and piano during our high school days. Ever since, we had wanted to form a trio professionally."

Piano players filled in intermittently until last summer, when Hernandez was playing a gig in a Paris suburb with the Fine Arts Quartet alongside pianist Wonny Song, he said.

"I had never met Wonny in person but knew him by reputation," Hernandez said. "Uriel was coincidentally visiting friends in Paris, so he came to see us play. That evening, we found ourselves together for the first time and really felt a good vibe from one another."

A short time later, Hernandez and Vanchestein asked Song if he was interested in forming the Boreal Trio with them.

"He was instantly excited, and just a few months later, here we are in the Tri-City area with our dream group," Hernandez said.

All three musicians have won numerous competitions between them, including the Geneva International Competition, the Brahms International Competition and the World Piano Competition.

Hernandez said his mother introduced him to the violin when he was 7 years old. But by the time he turned 12, he'd switched to the viola. He preferred the bigger and deeper sound the viola provided, he added.

When he isn't performing with the Boreal Trio, he lends his viola expertise to the Fine Arts Quartet and his own group, the Harlem String Quartet. He earned a Grammy award last year for his Harlem Quartet collaboration with Chick Corea and Gary Burton on their album Hot House.

Hernandez earned his bachelor's degree from The Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, where he studied with Paul Coletti. He earned a graduate degree in string quartet performance from the New England Conservatory.

Vanchestein holds bachelor's and master's degrees from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Charles Neidich and conducted with Maestro Derrick Inouye.

Song was awarded a full scholarship in 1994 to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, which is also where he earned his music doctorate.

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