Zachary De Pue joins the ISO
The intimate space has a distinguished feel to it. A portrait of an important-looking woman wearing a silky pink dress and pearls stares down from over the mantel of a fireplace. There are china cabinets, candlesticks, wine and mirrors rimmed with gold. As the musicians from Time for Three enter, an interesting juxtaposition of young and old, classical and popular music begins. Many of the concert-goers are here to see the newly appointed concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Zachary De Pue, a member of Time for Three. His story traverses many different musical frontiers.
De Pue grew up in the Midwest with a fiddling background. He studied classical violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, and then he moved on to play with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Sept. 9, he will join the ISO to take his new place as concertmaster.
De Pue also performs with his brothers (who all play violin), and he is the founding member of crossover ensemble Time for Three. Keep in mind, he’s only 28 years old. “In Curtis, everybody played as if their lives depended on it,” he says of his conservatory days. “That was a good thing and a bad thing. Everybody at Curtis was really supportive of each other, but they played in a manner that they were constantly proving themselves, as musicians and players. ... In a professional orchestra, it’s a much more intelligent approach — same fire, but it’s a controlled fire.”
De Pue’s passion for music shines in his playing and in his voice.
“The challenge in music is that you work so hard on what you do; you spend so much time in the practice room. Then you have to try to take what you can do and believe in it. Self belief is so important,” he says. “In this country, I feel like we could take care of each other so much better, and I mean that on so many levels. I mean, music is individual, but it’s also supportive. I enjoy being part of this family, this larger musical family. I think everyone at the end of the day wants everyone else to do well. It would certainly influence our country better.”
Along with the other members of Time for Three, De Pue is creating a new perspective for the classical music genre, trying to pull in the younger audience classical orchestras often miss.
“I think there’s this preconceived notion that you have to have a knowledge, especially with classical music, and you don’t,” De Pue says. “Our job is to communicate … emotion. And our job up there is to play our butts off. I feel that people — especially young people — they want to see performers perform. They don’t want to see musicians work.”
De Pue thinks that attracting younger audiences depends on their educational systems.
“Sports people are admired, because people can try to do it themselves. You can go out and buy a basketball. Then, when you see Michael Jordan do it, it’s obvious that he’s the best,” De Pue says. “I’ve tried playing an oboe. Just trying it, you get an immediate respect for what these people are doing. ... Really, it’s a big thing that young people need the opportunity to play as often as possible, be challenged, keep working on it and see what they can accomplish.”
When watching Time for Three, De Pue’s rich, orchestral tone melds with his fiddling elements, and Nicolas Kendall (violin) plays a darker toned beast of a solo in the funk/R&B style. Ranaan Meyer (double bass) and the rest of the group show their flair for composition with “Of Time and Three Rivers.” The industrial, hip-hop and jazz elements build into a tango and then come down to something simple and beautiful and, surprisingly, classical.
The group moves from furious virtuosity that blends country western, jazz, funk, pop and gypsy music to a calm, deliberate classical sound. They play the hell out of their instruments; then, they come down to play a beautiful haunting melody. They gain standing ovations from an 80-year-old and a 25-year-old while exuding youthful enthusiasm with musical wisdom beyond their years. De Pue and his mates have proven classical music can be cool.