The Eaken Piano Trio will perform a benefit concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 22 at Christ Episcopal Church, 426 Mulberry St., for the Lycoming County United Way.
For more than 25 years, violinist John Eaken has played with pianist Gloria Whitney and a cellist in the celebrated Eaken Piano Trio (EPT). The Grammy Award-nominated trio has toured across the world, held multiple performances at Carnegie Hall, and premiered works by composers like Mike Garson and Allen Menton.
For the past 12 years cellist Andrew Rammon has toured, recorded and performed in the EPT.
Andrew Rammon, pictured, is the cellist for the group Eaken Piano Trio. He performs with violinist John Eaken and pianist Gloria Whitney.
"I auditioned for the cello position ... in 2001 when their former cellist left," Rammon said in an e-mail interview. "I've been learning a lot from them, and when you play together for that long a special chemistry develops. You start to become aware of each other's intuition. It's very liberating and it allows us to be spontaneous in concerts," he added.
Born in Las Vegas, Rammon moved with his family to Germany when he was a year old.
"I grew up in a family of musicians; my parents are both professional violinists. I always knew that music would be important in my life," Rammon said.
He grew up in Mainz, Germany, earned a bachelor's degree from Pepperdine University in Malibu California, and a master's degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.
"I moved to Williamsport in 2000, where I've lived ever since. I like it here because there is a welcoming community, an active cultural scene, and there are lots of performing opportunities in the area," Rammon said.
With the EPT, Rammon has toured Europe and China and made six studio recordings.
"China was an unforgettable experience - they had building-size posters of us, and filled sport stadiums with thousands of people," he said. The trio's most recent recording was made at Lycoming College under the supervision of the multi-talented Tim Breon. Breon, who lives in Williamsport, teaches at Lycoming College, and has played first bass for the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, was sound engineer and producer for EPT's recording "Most Wonderful Time" (Con Brio Records). The album "features arrangements of holiday favorites by Mike Garson," Rammon said. Rammon met Garson, who is the former pianist for performers like David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails, and at a Williamsport Symphony concert. The two musicians quickly became friends and Garson made some "inspired arrangements" for the EPT, Rammon said.
The concert at Christ Episcopal Church on the 22 will feature several of Garson's arrangements, as well as "a few of the pieces that [the EPT has] been playing during this past season," Rammon explained. Allyn Landon, music director at Christ Episcopal, came up with the idea to organize the concert. With the generous support of a few local businesses, Christ Episcopal is able to host the EPT for a free concert. A free will offering will be taken, and the EPT will be selling copies of "Most Wonderful Time."
"All offerings and proceeds from sales will go directly to the Lycoming County United Way," Rammon said. "In the EPT we strive to play concerts in small communities, to foster local audiences, and to maintain personal relationships with our listeners," he added.
It would be easy to assume that in working in a trio that performs such a wide range of music - everything from Bach and Ravel to contemporary and holiday music - it would be difficult to arrange a selection of music. "We have one rule when selecting repertoire," Rammon said: "All three of us have to like the piece."
He went on to say that the trio tries to select music that its audiences will enjoy, and admitted that "it's not that easy to find contemporary pieces that have a broad audience appeal."
Donations made to the Lycoming County United Way will benefit programs like the American Red Cross, the Central PA Food Bank, Shepherd of the Streets, and the American Rescue Workers.
For more information on the United Way and the local chapter, visit www.unitedway.org and www.lcuw.org. The Christ Episcopal Church of Williamsport can be found online at www.christ-church-williamsport.diocpa.org. To find the Eaken Piano Trio online, visit www.eakenpianotrio.com.