Since 1994 the Adaskin String Trio has won over audiences with exuberant playing and programming that blends classical masterpieces with unexpected treasures. Critics agree - their playing has been hailed for “vigor, precision and stylistic certitude” (Charleston Gazette) as well as “spontaneity, intensity and charm” (Peninsula Review). The trio has toured throughout the USA and Canada performing at venues such as the The Frick Collection in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, and in Boston, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, and Chicago.
This dynamic ensemble commands an impressive string trio repertoire ranging from Haydn and Schubert to Dohnanyi, Villa-Lobos, Schnittke, and composers of today including Chick Corea, Paul Simon and Michael White. Gramophone Magazine hailed the trio's "superb playing" on their two-CD set of the five Beethoven String Trios, the cornerstone of the repertoire. A particular pleasure for the trio is introducing audiences to gorgeous and rarely heard gems by undeservedly neglected masters such as Taneyev, Martinu, Rozsa, Berkeley and Klein.
Special collaborations are an exciting part of many of the trio’s concerts, from quartets with oboe or piano by Mozart, Elgar and Brahms to quintets with clarinet or accordion by Golijov and Piazzolla. Their MSR Classics release of the two piano quartets by Gabriel Fauré with long-time collaborator pianist Sally Pinkas was hailed as “worth celebrating… splendid” (Classical Voice of New England).
Although the Adaskin String Trio is currently based in New England, the members of the trio are all originally from Canada. They met in Montreal where they each studied chamber music with founding Orford Quartet cellist Marcel Saint-Cyr. They later completed two years as ensemble-in-residence at The Hartt School under the guidance of the Emerson Quartet. The trio is named in honor of Murray Adaskin, one of Canada's most loved and respected composers, and two of his brothers, violinist Harry Adaskin and producer and music educator John Adaskin.
Emlyn Ngai, in addition to his role on modern violin in the trio, is a highly respected historical violinist. He is Associate Concertmaster for the Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra and Concertmaster of the Philadelphia baroque orchestra and chamber ensemble Tempest di Mare. He has performed with these and numerous other renowned ensembles throughout Europe and North America. As first prize winner at the 1995 Locatelli Concours Amsterdam, Emlyn recorded a solo CD for Vanguard Classics and has since released many other highly praised discs for Musica Omnia, ATMA, Centaur, Eclectra, Koch, New World Records, and Telarc. Currently he teaches modern and baroque violin, chamber music and performance practice at The Hartt School where he also co-directs the Collegium Musicum.
Violist Steve Larson is a Senior Artist Teacher at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, where he has taught since 1998 and has served both as Chair for Strings and Chair of Chamber Music. He is a founding member of the acclaimed oboe, viola and piano trio, Ensemble Schumann, and the equally renowned Adaskin String Trio. He also performs and records in duo with his wife, violinist Annie Trépanier and throughout the Americas and Europe with their chamber groups, Avery Ensemble and Cuatro Puntos. Both groups also present their own Hartford, Connecticut concert series which present numerous world premieres and cross-cultural collaborations in programs specially crafted to give the music a meaningful context. Larson is Principal Viola of the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra and Chair of Viola Studies for the intensive string chamber music program at the Wintergreen Summer Music Academy in Virginia. He is a former member of the Alcan String Quartet and has performed as a guest with groups such as the Emerson Quartet and the Lions Gate Trio as well as with orchestras such as the Montreal Symphony and National Arts Center Orchestra. Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan (Canada), Larson holds degrees from McGill University, l’Université de Montréal and The Hartt School. At the 1997 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition in the United Kingdom he won second prize and received the special award for his performance of the commissioned work. He studied violin with Ernest Kassian, Elman Lowe, Howard Leyton-Brown, and Mauricio Fuks, viola with Jutta Puchhammer and Steve Tenenbom, and chamber music with members of the Emerson and Orford String Quartets. He plays an exceptional 17-3/8 inch viola made by Helmuth Keller in 1981.
Cellist Mark Fraser, originally from Montreal, studied with Walter Joachim, Aldo Parisot, Yuli Turovsky, and David Finckel; he holds degrees from McGill University, l'Université de Montréal, and The Hartt School. For many years he was the founding Artistic Director of Project Renaissance, an arts festival near Montreal. Mark also performs frequently as a soloist and in recital - recording credits include a CD of works by Bach, Schumann, and Prokofiev with pianist Sooka Wang, and a 2013 CD of three of the Bach Suites for Solo Cello. In 2014 he became Executive Artistic Director of Mohawk Trail Concerts, one of New England’s longest standing (soon to celebrate 50 years!) and most renowned chamber music series.