Gryphon Trio | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Gryphon Trio

Gryphon Trio.

Gryphon Trio

Gryphon Trio. Piano trio founded 1993, comprising violinist Annalee Patipatanakoon (b Vientiane, Laos, 6 Aug 1966; studied at Mount Royal College Conservatory with Lise Elson; Artist Diploma, Curtis Institute; studied at Indiana University with Franco Gulli and Miriam Fried); cellist Roman Borys (b Toronto 30 Aug 1965; studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music with Marcus Adeney and Robert Dodson; at Indiana University with Menahem Pressler and Janos Starker [chamber music]; and at Yale University with Aldo Parisot); and pianist Jamie Parker (b Burnaby, BC, 31 May 1963; B MUS [University of British Columbia] 1985; MA [Juilliard] 1987; DMA [Juilliard] 1992).

Named after a mythical creature with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion reputed to be a guardian of treasures, the Gryphon Trio is widely regarded as one of North America's premier chamber groups, and has been hailed by one Toronto critic as a group that approaches "national treasure status." The trio has come to be known for performances that embody a superb and unerring sense of style, wit and elegance together with an unsurpassed sense of ensemble and balance. BBC Music Magazine described their playing as "exquisite," full of "delicacy and sensuous beauty" and "breathtaking tonal control." Their reputation rests on several cornerstones: touring and live performances; a body of recordings for Analekta; commissioned works; and innovative educational initiatives.

The Gryphon Trio has toured and concertized extensively. They appear regularly throughout Canada and the US and have performed in Germany, France, Russia, Poland, Greece, Belgium, Central America and Egypt. Festival appearances have included the Guelph Spring Festival, the Northern Encounters Festival, Festival of the Sound and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (OICMF). From 1998 to 2008 the Gryphon Trio was ensemble-in-residence at the Music Toronto chamber series, and since 2007 it has been responsible for artistic direction of the Ottawa Chamber Music Society and the OICMF, with Borys appointed Artistic Director in 2009 and Patipatanakoon and Parker Artistic Advisors.


Various awards and accolades have attended the Gryphon Trio's recordings for Analekta. Their debut recording in 1996 of four Haydn trios (FL 2 3104 ) is coveted by chamber music cognoscenti for its stylish brilliance. One reviewer commented that the sound quality is "positively crystalline and the playing is bright, tight and totally engaging" (Culture Shock). Their second recording (1997) showcased piano trios of Dvořák and Mendelssohn (FL 2 3127). Both recordings received Juno nominations. These were followed by trios of Mendelssohn and Lalo (FL 2 3170), and a recording of early Beethoven trios, Op 1 nos. 1 and 3 in 2004 (FL 2 3174). The latter was named best chamber music recording by Opus. In 2011 the Gryphon Trio won a Juno award for their thirteenth recording on Analekta (AN 2 9860), Beethoven trios Op 70, nos 1 and 2 and Op 11.

Development of New Works

In addition to superb interpretations of established repertoire, the Gryphon Trio is involved with the development of new repertoire. They have commissioned more than 20 new works, some of which are featured in their 2004 recording Canadian Premieres (Fl 2 3174). This collection brings together works by Ka Nin Chan, Gary Kulesha, Kelly-Marie Murphy and Christos Hatzis. Canadian Premieres garnered the Gryphon Trio its first Juno award.

Among the group's most ambitious initiatives is the multi-media theatrical extravaganza Constantinople, by Hatzis. In line with the trio's mandate to reach a new generation, the work presents chamber music in a theatrical setting, complete with surround-sound electroacoustics, staging, lights and pyrotechnics. The work mixes Eastern and Western musical styles and features an elaborate audio-visual component. Live musicians include the Gryphon Trio, soprano Patricia O'Callaghan, and Middle Eastern singer Maryem Hassan Tollar. The work was premiered at the Banff Centre for the Arts in summer 2004. Other multi-media works commissioned by the trio include a production that explores the Aboriginal spirit of the Haida of British Columbia. The piece, ...and the masks evoke..., features music by Ka Nin Chan.

Educational Initiatives; Innovation

The Gryphon Trio has been involved in notable educational initiatives (eg, the Young Composers Program, held annually at the Claude Watson School for the Arts in Toronto.) The initiative has resulted in the creation of some 25 piano trios. Other educational initiatives of the Gryphon Trio, geared towards all ages, include the series "Music that speaks to you," featuring commentary by Gary Kulesha. In collaboration with composer Andrew Staniland and music educator Rob Kapilow, Listen Up! was launched in 2010 at Naismith Memorial Public School in Almonte, Ontario, engaging students to participate in a multi-phased project culminating in the creation of a new work for choir and piano trio.

In keeping with their dedication to innovation and outreach, the Gryphon Trio has ventured far outside the confines of the concert hall. Their foray into Ravel was presented at a Toronto club, the Lula Lounge. In addition to delivering world-class performances, the Gryphon Trio nurtures a taste for chamber music in audiences of the future by, as one reviewer put it, "loosening its collar and charging the chamber" (Laurie Brown, CBC "Prime Time News," 1994).

All three members of the Gryphon Trio teach at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music.

Further Reading