A Night of Laughter and Music: The Joe Trio Review

Review by Jan Nelson

What do you get when you put a violinist, a cellist and a pianist together on the stage? You wouldn’t expect a night of laughing and musical entertainment, but that is exactly what The Joe Trio brought to the South Okanagan Concert Series’ season finale at the Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver on March 9th.

The Joe Trio is composed of three unique musicians. Cameron Wilson brings his beautiful mastery of the violin along with his amazing talent for arranging pieces for a string and piano trio. With his dry sense of humour and brilliant ability to mimic a beginner violin student, he brought a sense of approachability to an instrument that can feel foreign to the average music enthusiast.

Pianist Allen Stiles has excellent comedic timing and amazing technique. He knows just how long to stretch out a joke while backing it up with a polished performance – my type of pianist. Cellist Charles Inkman has played with household names like John Denver and Beach Boys Legend Brian Wilson, and now has Oliver to add to the list of venues he has graced. Not to be outshone by his Trio-mates, Charles brings an added touch of class with his background in classical performance with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

The programme for the evening included refined pieces from Joseph ‘Papa Joe’ Haydn and Felix Mendelssohn, to The Sad Story of Little Joe Who Played the Violin, a comedic spoken word accented number that follows the path of Little Joe’s musical life. Even more traditional pieces were approached with a light heart; Mendelssohn’s piece was introduced as “four movements – the first is pretty long, the second is pretty short, the third is really short, and the fourth is not as long as you think it will be or feels like it will be.” Never short of banter, each piece painted yet another beautiful colour on an enjoyable evening.

In particular, two pieces stood out. A medley of songs from West Side Story adapted to piano trio by Cameron Wilson called for audience participation and a bit of pre-performance practice by the packed house. I think we did a better job during the practice, but The Joe Trio managed to make us sound good. A second piece that required audience participation was ‘Classic TV Themes meets the Great Composers;’ a series of TV themes from the 60s and 70s arranged by Wilson to sound like classical composers, and each correct answer guessing the theme and composer by the audience was rewarded with a chocolate placed carefully on stage for retrieval by the winner at intermission.

And not to be forgotten was an adaptation of Bohemian Rhapsody (yes, the one by Queen), a beautiful arrangement by Wilson of a classic rock ballad that would have made Freddy Mercury proud, although I’m sure Freddy would have appreciated a quick wardrobe change to set the mood.

I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying concerts at the Frank Venables Theatre (old and new) off and on since I was six, and I am grateful to wonderful performers like The Joe Trio for making the trip out to Oliver to share their talent with us, and to the Southern Okanagan Concert Series members, volunteers and audience members who keep us entertained tirelessly year after year. Thank you.

The Southern Okanagan Concert Society would like to thank their generous local sponsors for the 2017-2018 season, and looks forward to another entertaining season of musical enjoyment starting in the fall. The 2018-2019 season will feature the Mark Atkinson Trio on October 12, 2018, Duo Fortin-Poirier on February 15, 2019, and O-Celli cello octet (eight cellos!) on March 29, 2019, plus a fourth concert to be announced. Look for ticket information to be released soon.