Prometheus Trio continues a standard of excellence

Beautiful sounds can always be heard wafting through the halls of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Many of those dulcet tones belong to the Prometheus Trio, the conservatory’s resident chamber music ensemble.

Founded in 2000, the Prometheus Trio was established shortly after the Wisconsin Conservatory returned to its Prospect Avenue home, after a period of remodeling. “The conservatory had a long history of having a resident trio, at least dating back to the 1970s, so then-President Joyce Altman and VP of academic affairs Alice Brovan thought it would be great to have a resident trio again,” says Stefanie Jacob, the trio’s pianist.

Jacob says she and her husband, Prometheus cellist Scott Tisdel, were already thinking about forming a trio. “Scott and I have performed as a duo since we met at Indiana University,” says Jacob. “When we moved to Milwaukee, we played with quite a few violinists before we decided to form a more permanent ensemble.”

Originally, their partner was violinist Samantha George, then the associate concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Tisdel met George at an audition, and he and Jacob later asked her to join them for a concert in January 2000. A few events later, the three officially became the Prometheus Trio, which performed its first show as a group in November 2000 shortly after the grand reopening of the Wisconsin Conservatory.

George, now an associate professor of violin at Lawrence University in Appleton, would later leave the group. Tisdel and Jacob have worked with three violinists since: Jeanyi Kim, Timothy Klabunde and, starting this season, Margot Schwartz. Over those 16 years, the performance calendar for the trio has changed as well, growing from a three- to a four-concert series and adding several out-of-town commitments.

As the ensemble-in-residence at the Wisconsin Conservatory, the Prometheus Trio has a unique position as not just performers but also educators. “We work with three Conservatory student groups, which is really great,” says Jacob. “All three of us enjoy coaching chamber music, so it’s really a lot fun.”

For Jacob, this commitment to education includes teaching privately in addition to ensemble coaching. “I always tell students that, if chamber music is what you want to do, start working with others as early as you can — it can only help you!” added Jacobs.

Jacob and Tisdel’s love of music does not end with them — it has been passed to their daughter, Emmy Tisdel. Emmy is primarily a violinist, but also plays viola, and will be joining her parents for the final Prometheus Trio concert of the 2015–16 season.

That concert, also marking the end of Schwartz’s first year with the group, will feature a number of Prometheus Trio favorites: Mozart’s Trio in E Major, Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C minor and a heart-wrenching trio by contemporary composer Alfred Schnittke.

“The concert features some challenging and beautiful (music) as well as includes our own daughter, which we are very excited about!” says Jacob. “It promises to be a truly special event.”

The Prometheus Trio will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 11 and 12 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, 1584 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets are $25, $35 for premium seating, $15 for students and free for WCM students. Visit wcmusic.org or call 414-276-5760 to order.