Since 2009, the trio known as Time for Three have blurred the lines between classical orchestra music and pop favorites.
They’ve pounded out covers of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Mumford & Sons “Little Lion Man” and Kanye West’s “Stronger,” all on a pair of violins and a double bass.
The group has performed on “Dancing with the Stars,” done hit-and-run impromptu shows at Indianapolis’ most popular places and brought the audience to its feet with an electric performance at Mallow Run Winery in Bargersville.
Now, the trio is ready for its encore.
After seven years as artists-in-residence, eclectic trio Time for Three will end its time with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra this summer. But before it does, the group is seeing its vision for a cross-genre music festival in central Indiana come to life.
The group, in conjunction with the orchestra, will present the INfusion Music Fest from April 28 to 30. Modern orchestral compositions will share the stage with popular indie artists such as Ben Folds, Kishi Bashi and San Fermin.
Underlying the planned performances will be the connection between music and the environment, with inspiring performances on how people can make a difference in their world.
“The spirit of the festival is, the symphony is trying to engage new audiences in its world, and trying to be more engaged the contemporary issues facing our community. One of those is the environment,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council and a presenter at the festival.
With its proximity to Earth Day, Time for Three and symphony organizers wanted to pinpoint music and artists who are passionate about environmental work.
“The arts have always been a powerful means for addressing social change,” said Gary Ginstling, CEO of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. “(The INfusion Music Fest) provides a novel way to connect orchestral music to important social issues of our time, all in one fun and compelling weekend.”
The centerpiece of the festival will be the composition, “Become Ocean,” a single-movement work by award-winning composer John Luther Adams. Adams was inspired by the changing sea levels in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to create the work.
Other special pieces in the festival will be Steven Mackey’s “Urban Ocean,” a musical documentary called “Dreamland” and “Elevation: Paradise,” a work by Time for Three members Nick Kendall and Ranaan Meyer, as well as acclaimed composer Kenji Bunch.
“When people experience music, they listen to reflect, to relax and to gain new perspective. What could be a better context to talk about the environment than people coming in, very receptive to hear a new message and to hear a message that can be conveyed with a spirit of optimism and hope?” Kharbanda said.
Partnered with these composing titans will be big names in the world of indie music.
Ben Folds, known for his work with his own Ben Folds Five, will play a concerto for piano and orchestra that he wrote himself.
“In my mind, it’s just my new song. Except that it’s 25 minutes long in three movements and requires 60 or more musicians to bring it to life,” Folds said in a statement. “I put everything into this piece and then had to seriously improve my piano playing in order to perform it.”
Violinist Kishi Bashi will bring his progressive, world-rock-infused arrangements. San Fermin, a baroque pop band founded by Brooklyn-based composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone, will close out the festival.
Organizers have planned a wide range of environmental groups to present throughout the festival. Rob Shumaker, the vice president of conservation and life sciences at the Indianapolis Zoo, will present information about its conservation efforts.
Mass transit organization IndyGo will have information on current public transportation routes and future projects.
Kharbanda will discuss the economic and environmental opportunities Indiana has to be leader fighting climate change.
“Climate change can be a contentious issue in Indiana, but it doesn’t have to be,” he said. “There’s a way to approach it can be both good for the environment and good for the economy.”
But throughout the festival, Time for Three’s presence will be felt.
Violinists Kendall and Zachary De Pue and double bassist Meyer came together to form Time for Three in the early 2000s as students at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music.
Through their unique spin on classical music, as well as constant touring and a focus on viral social media promotion, the trio has established themselves as innovators across all genres of music. They’ve played New York’s famed Carnegie Hall, European festivals, NFL games and the Indianapolis 500.
When the trio partnered with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for a residency program, neither side knew how it would turn out. But everyone involved was committed to creating something that hadn’t been heard in classical music before, Kendall said before their show in Bargersville last year.
“Because of our experimentation, and because of the symphony’s commitment to take a lot of risks, all of us have come out with something very valuable. There’s something for children, there’s something for young adults and there’s something for our parents’ age,” he said.
The INfusion Music Fest will mark the end of the collaboration, at least in this form. De Pue announced he is leaving the trio to work on his classical career as a full member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
So the festival will serve as a going-out party.
They will kick off the event with a cabaret-style show in the lobby of the Hilbert Circle Theatre. The trio will perform alongside both Bashi and San Fermin, as well.
INfusion Music Fest
When: April 28 to 30
Where: Hilbert Circle Theatre, 45 Monument Circle, Indianapolis
What: A new three-day festival this spring presented by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and musical group Time for Three that will focus on and celebrate the connections between music and the environment.
Featured performers: Indie rockers Ben Folds, Kishi Bashi and San Fermin
Tickets: Weekend pass, $35 to $100; varies on individual days
Schedule of events
Time for Three
8 p.m., doors open at 7.
A special cabaret-style performance in the Hilbert Circle Theatre Lobby.
8 p.m., doors open at 6:30.
Ben Folds performs his concerto for piano and orchestra. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performs John Luther Adams’ “Become Ocean” and Steven Mackey’s “Urban Ocean.”
- 7 p.m.: Emily Wood, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, main stage; Jim Poysner, Earth Charter Indiana, presents the “Ain’t Too Late Show,” the world’s first climate change game show, the Wood Room; Rob Shumaker, the Indianapolis Zoo, second floor extended lobby.
- 7:20 p.m.: Matthew Boulton, Christian Theological Seminary, main stage.
Tickets: $20 to $60, weekend pass $35 to $100.
Kishi Bashi and Time for Three
4 p.m., doors open at 2:30.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performs Valgeir Sigurdsson’s “Dreamland” and Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s “How to Fake Your Death,” followed by performances by Kishi Bashi and Time for Three.
- 2:30 p.m.: Bonesetters performance, Wood Room; the Indianapolis Zoo presents “Zoo Prize Films,” second floor extended lobby.
- 3 p.m.: presentation by IndyGo, main stage
Tickets: $15 to $35.
8 p.m., doors open at 7.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Time for Three perform Ranaan Meyer and Nick Kendall’s “Elevation Paradise,” followed by a special performance by San Fermin.
- 7:10 p.m.: performance by Jason Aaron Coon, Wood Room; presentation by Jesse Karbanada from Hoosier Environmental Council, main stage; the Indianapolis Zoo presents “Zoo Prize Films,” second floor extended lobby.
- 7:30 p.m.: Rob Shumaker, Indianapolis Zoo, presents.
Tickets: $15 to $40