History of TROICA

Steven Mauk and Kim Dunnick have performed together for many years since becoming colleagues at Ithaca College. However, with the notable exception of the Concertino for Trumpet, Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra by Jean Rivier, there has been very little literature for them to perform as a duo. Early on, they performed works such as Mark Taggart’s Six Windy City Vignettes, but it was difficult to find other literature for this genre. They also performed David Deason’s Dialogue for saxophone and trumpet alone, with no piano or ensemble accompaniment.

In the spring of 2000, they were invited to Russia to do recitals, classes and perform with wind orchestras in Moscow and Saratov. Since the ensembles with which they were to perform were wind ensembles, the Rivier was impossible and they ended up performing the Rivier together only with piano in recital, and performing trumpet solos and saxophone solos with the wind orchestras.

In 2002 Mauk and Dunnick were successful in obtaining a grant for the two of them to go back to Russia, and later, for two Russian musicians to travel to Upstate New York in an exchange of concerts and masterclasses. When the two Russian musicians (Alexei Volkov, leading saxophone free-lance player in Moscow and Andrei Ikov, Bolshoi Orchestra principal trumpeter) arrived in New York, they brought with them three pieces written for saxophone, trumpet and piano (some had wind ensemble accompaniment as well). The pieces had been written by Moscow composers Ephrem Podgaits and Mikhail Bronner specifically for the two Russian musicians to perform on this tour.

With the addition of these three new pieces now in their repertoire, Mauk and Dunnick now had more than just a nucleus around which to program recitals. Ithaca College faculty member Diane Birr had accompanied both Mauk and Dunnick in previous solo recitals and had been chosen to collaborate with Ikov and Volkov during their New York tour, thus performing the premiers of the three new trio works. After the Russians returned to Moscow, Birr agreed to join Mauk and Dunnick in forming Troica, a trio of saxophone, trumpet and piano. With an obvious Russian connection in the genesis of this group, the choice of the term for a three-horse sleigh or wagon in Russia as the name for the group seemed appropriate. The Russian term is usually spelled “Troika” when Anglicized, but replacing the “k” with a hard “c” allowed the letters “IC” (Ithaca College) to appear.

The success of this trio has led to searching for more literature written for saxophone, trumpet and piano. Further diligence has led to such early pieces as Del Staigers’ cornet piece, Hazel (1929), Jacobo Ficher’s Sonatina (1931) and Gary Washburn’s Solitudes (1974). Clearly, however, there is still a dearth of literature extant for such a group and Troica began its quest to improve the situation. Lacking money for commissions, the trio nevertheless performed concerts and spoke enthusiastically of their new ensemble with friends and colleagues, some of whom were composers. Within several months, composer Mark Satterwhite of the University of Louisville sent a new piece for the trio, titled Monorail to Atomland. About a year later, Satterwhite completed two additional movements to create a three-movement work titled Stolen Song Titles, with Monorail as the last movement. In 2006 Troica received a work by Dominick D’Orio titled L’ Eau de Changeante- An Organic Variation. After hearing the group perform at the World Saxophone Congress in Lubjianka, Slovenia, Ukrainian composer Volodymyr Runchak wrote a piece for the trio. Both the Satterwhite and D’Orio pieces were premiered on a Troica recital in November 2007. Also on this recital was the premiere of an edition by the composer of a work originally for two trumpets and orchestra by Peter Lawrence. Lawrence wrote his Concertino for Two Trumpets, Strings and Rhythm Section in 2003. It was premiered and recorded to considerable acclaim. When Dunnick contacted Lawrence to ask if he might consider a transcription for trumpet, alto sax and orchestra, Lawrence responded with that edition, as well as a piano reduction.

In the spring of 2010, Troica released their first album. They continue to seek out little known pieces in the literature as well as generate new compositions for their group. (A list of known compositions for saxophone, trumpet and piano is found elsewhere on this site as well as some works for saxophone and trumpet alone and for saxophone, trumpet and orchestra. ) The trio continues to perform as well as encourage new music for this ensemble. Most recently, new works by American composers Carleton Clay and Dana Wilson, and Australian composer Margery Smith have been completed and premiered by Troica. With the release of their CD, a performance at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Sydney, Australia in July 2010, and performances scheduled in various chamber music series, Troica hopes to move music for this trio combination from the unusual into the mainstream.