If you've yet to attend one of the Whistler Chamber Music Society's concerts, Joe Trio on April 14 might be the show for you.
Yes, they're classical musicians who play piano, cello and violin, but they also perform "Bohemian Rhapsody," play old TV show theme songs posing as different classical composers, and, occasionally, shower the audience in candy.
"Personally, I just want to turn people on to music they might not have heard," says Cameron Wilson, violinist with the trio. "Our stuff is for people who love music and the sound of a piano trio."
Wilson and pianist Allen Stiles first formed the trio back in 1989, fresh out of university. "We had the same idea about what kind of chamber music group we wanted to start. (But) we were like Spinal Tap with the drummers," Wilson says with a laugh, referring to their ever-changing cellists.
In the last decade though, Charles Inkman has steadily filled that role.
"When we started we were one of the first groups doing classical cross-over," Wilson adds. "Everyone is doing it now."
But much of their longevity as a group—they're all busy with other musical pursuits from teaching to freelancing and, in Inkman's case, performing with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra—is the fact that it's simply fun to play together.
"I'm chiefly the arranger in the group," Wilson says. "I enjoy arranging and composing. The three of us just have a great time. It's different from any other group ... With the Joe Trio, (what we play is) always changing. When I was in the symphony full time it got to be a job. It's nice to change it up a bit and keep it fresh."
Together they've recorded three albums, toured extensively—everywhere from B.C.'s Gulf Islands to the Midwest of the U.S.—and even joined the much-loved Vinyl Café tour in 2014. Wilson also worked with that CBC show's founder, the late Stuart McLean, on musical projects in the early 2000s.
"He always liked us. I don't know why," Wilson says, laughing. "It was our good fortune to work with him."
While the trio has slowed down its touring schedule in recent years, they have a handful of shows planned for the spring and summer—including the trip up to Whistler. The audience can look forward to their signature wide-ranging repertoire, Wilson says.
"You're going to hear a little bit of everything. It's like a microcosm of our full concert."
That will include classical pieces by Joseph Haydn, a medley of songs by Brian Wilson, and even a story over which they'll play music called "The Sad Story of Little Joe Who Played the Violin."
"It's cross-genre," Wilson says. "It's not just going to be a Haydn trio followed by a Mendelssohn trio. We've always kind of been like that. We find the non-classical music enhances the classical music and the classical music supports some of the more wacky stuff we're doing."
That ethos also captures Joe Trio's name. (As you might have noticed, it's not named after any of the musicians.)
"When Al and I started the group we wanted a name that was catchy, but we didn't want to be pretentious—like Allegro Con Tutti Fruti Pesto Obbligato Trio," Wilson says. "It just sounds good. We discovered there's another Joe Trio, but they're a Korean rock band. When people ask, we say, 'It's easy to spell.'"
Joe Trio plays at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on Sunday, April 14 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 or $15 for those 35-years-old and younger. Get them at whistlerchambermusic.ca, at the museum (cash only) or at the door.