Editor's note: This summer, we're looking at some of the people who make the arts a reality in the Old Pueblo. Today, we introduce you to some of Tucson's bright young stars on the classical music horizon: pianist sisters Yelena ("Lena") and Yelizaveta ("Leeza") Beriyeva and the Swara Sonora Trio.
They planned for more than a year, practiced for about as long and put together a great adventure that will take them across the globe.
In 11 days, the Tucson-based Swara Sonora Trio will board a plane and fly across the world to make good on a dream: to perform the Indonesian premiere of a spectacular piece of music they commissioned to promote peace and understanding.
"I think it will be really exciting. And I'm really excited about interacting with people over there. That's what the peace tour is all about," soprano Kathryn Mueller said in a sentiment echoed by her trio partners — pianist Aryo Wicaksono and baritone Nathan Krueger.
In a three-week tour, they will perform concerts of music that crosses cultural and geographic borders — works by everyone from Leonard Bernstein to Giuseppe Verdi. Centuries-old classical operatic arias are programmed alongside contemporary works written for the trio's rare musical makeup — pianist, soprano and baritone.
Swara Sonora will perform a preview of that concert Sunday as part of the St. Andrew's Bach Society summer series. It will be the last public performance before they leave for Indonesia on July 28.
In addition to the concerts, they will teach master classes, taking what they learned during their time at the University of Arizona, where the trio met while in graduate school five years ago, and from teaching with the Tucson Unified School District's Opening Minds Through the Arts program.
In all, they will visit four Indonesian cities on the island of Java, including Jakarta and Wicaksono's hometown of Surabaya. The trip marks only the second time Wicaksono, 26, has returned to Indonesia since he left 11 years ago. And it will be the first time he has ever performed for an audience at home.
"My hope is that they will be open and embrace the different music and teaching," Wicaksono said. "I hope people are going to be fun and happy and hopefully receptive. I've spent some time on Facebook getting connected with who's who in music in Indonesia."
The idea to perform in Indonesia came to him after his last trip home a couple years ago, when he met Indonesian composer Ananda Sukarlan. Wicaksono returned to Tucson with the idea of commissioning Sukarlan to write for his trio.
The result was "Love & Variations," an eight-song cycle using poems from around the world. The trio performed the world premiere last April in Tucson and decided they wanted to perform it in Indonesia with Sukarlan in the audience.
The trio, whose underlying mission is to reach across cultures for understanding musically and socially, decided their Indonesian trip needed more purpose than just music. So they teamed up with UNICEF to turn their concerts into fundraising events for the children's charity, Wicaksono said.
"The purpose is to promote peace and collaboration," he said, which applies to their musical mission and their humanitarian one. "We are trying to help them improve the level of health. Hopefully, we can chip in, bit by bit. We're sharing the music and at the same time helping out."
"I'm very excited to be bringing this music to a new audience," said Krueger, 34.
Added 31-year-old Mueller: "I think the concerts will be very exciting. Western art music is not really big over there."
The trio raised about $15,000 in donations and pledges to cover their travel expenses, Wicaksono said. They also have raised about $2,000 for UNICEF.
If you go
What: Swara Sonora Trio "Love & Peace: A World of Music."
Who: Pianist Aryo Wicaksono, soprano Kathryn Mueller and baritone Nathan Krueger.
Presented by: St. Andrew's Bach Society.
When: 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St.
Tickets: $10; $5 for students at the door.
Program: Includes Bach's "Virga Jesse floruit" from "Magnificat" in D major; Thomason's "Collected Poems"; arias from operas including Verdi's "Deh non parlare al misero" from "Rigoletto" and Donizetti's "Quanto amore!" from "L'elisir d'amore"; a medley of Indonesian folk songs; Broadway tunes including Stephen Sondheim's "Not a Day Goes By" from "Merrily We Roll Along" and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's "If I Loved You" from "Carousel".; and Ananda Sukarlan's "Love & Variations."