Formed in 2018, Trio Gaia is dedicated to offering audiences dynamic, personally relevant experiences inside and outside the concert hall. Selected as a 2019-2020 Honors Ensemble at the New England Conservatory, the trio has also been recognized for sharing classical chamber music in the community, receiving both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 Ensemble Fellowship from New England Conservatory’s Community Performances & Partnerships initiative. Through the fellowship, they have presented a series of concerts at venues ranging from the historic Boston Public Library and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to local schools and senior homes. Recently, the trio were finalists in the Plowman National Chamber Music Competition, where they won the Vianello Family Audience Prize and were runners-up in their division. During the summer of 2019, Trio Gaia was invited to Carnegie Hall’s Audience Engagement Intensive, offered in collaboration with Ensemble Connect, which helped the trio reach audiences across New York City with accessible, interactive performances for elementary school students and seniors alike. The trio's 2019-2020 season includes recitals across New England in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, a week-long residency at the Virginia Arts Festival, three world-premieres, and educational and community outreaches across greater Boston. The season also sees the inauguration of an adventurous audience-interactive-music initiative through their project commission: engage, part of upcoming recital and outreach experiences. The season culminates with Trio Gaia's Jordan Hall debut recital in late spring 2020.
As individuals, violinist Grant Houston, cellist Yi-Mei Templeman, and pianist Andrew Barnwell have established performing careers that have taken them to nine countries for a range of solo and collaborative opportunities. Together, the trio has performed in a masterclass with pianist Inon Barnatan and has studied extensively with renowned artists Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, Merry Peckham and Max Levinson. Their additional mentors include cellists Lluis Claret and Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, and pianists Victor Rosenbaum and Orli Shaham. Currently, the trio members are working towards undergraduate degrees at the New England Conservatory in Boston. When not rehearsing or performing, you can find Trio Gaia shopping for new outfits or cooking together.
Violinist Grant Houston connects with communities by using the narrative power of music to take audiences on emotional journeys. Sharing chamber music and solo works in both traditional concert settings and frequent outreach events, Grant has performed across the world, notably at the Moritzburg Festival Academy in Germany, the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and the Schlern International Music Festival in Italy. Passionate about bringing music beyond the concert hall, Grant has often organized recitals of both solo and chamber music in outreach efforts with schools, senior homes, and other community settings. For the 2018-2019 season, he was honored to be a New England Conservatory Community Performances and Partnerships fellow, with the purpose of bringing unique and educational recital programs to Boston area audiences through partner organizations, both as a duo artist and as a member of Trio Gaia.
In constant pursuit of musical growth, Grant has performed for artists such as Hilary Hahn, Rachel Barton Pine, Martin Beaver, Almita and Roland Vamos, and Stefan Jackiw, and has received chamber music coaching from members of the Brentano String Quartet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Prazak String Quartet, Miami String Quartet, and Quartet San Francisco. As an undergraduate at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Grant is a student of Ayano Ninomiya. He currently plays a modern violin by Philippe Girardin.
Whether performing at the piano or honing his penchant for concert curation, Andrew Barnwell is almost always working at one keyboard or another.
During his tenure as co-director of a 501(c)3 called Instruments for Change, Andrew quickly developed a passion for event planning: the teen-run non-profit presented numerous recitals and benefit concerts throughout the Seattle metro area, and at one such event raised over $3,000 to assist mudslide-devastated Oso, Washington. As a student at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Andrew continues to plan, organize, and execute: as a 2017 NEC 150 Fellow, he programmed seven hours of music for ten eclectic ensembles to perform on two outdoor stages as part of NEC’s Open Studios event. During 2018 and 2019, Andrew was one of five NEC Nova Fellows, a team of students who produced two multidisciplinary concerts that united music with dance and visual art, as well as an event at Roxbury’s Immigrant Family Services Institute. The Nova fellows reached hundreds of audience members and partnered with local musicians, artists, and businesses, including Sofar Sounds. After an exciting first year, Andrew is looking forward to serving as Nova’s Executive Director for 2019 and 2020. Additionally, Andrew has volunteered with From the Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders, was an intern for Celebrity Series of Boston’s development team, and has worked on-campus for NEC’s Preparatory School and Business Office.
As a performer, Andrew finds chamber music most fulfilling, with recent performances bringing him to the 2017 Agassiz Chamber Music Festival in Winnipeg, Canada for a viola duo recital with his close friend, and to Jordan Hall for a duo flute recital with Hunter O’Brien, winner of the 2018 Pappoutsakis competition. As a soloist, Andrew has appeared with the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra and his high school’s Wind Ensemble, and has presented solo recitals at NEC and in the community through NEC’s Community Performances and Partnerships initiative.
Born in Massachusetts, he began his piano studies with Heather Rodgers Riley before relocating with his family to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he studied with Søren Pedersen for three years. Afterwards, Andrew attended high school in Seattle, Washington, and was first a student of Mark Salman before joining the studio of Dainius Vaicekonis, and later, renowned pedagogue Robin McCabe. Andrew currently studies with Victor Rosenbaum at NEC. During Andrew’s many hours spent avoiding the practice room, he can usually be found wandering the galleries of the MFA or searching street-by-street for Boston’s best ice cream and pastries—recommendations are gladly accepted.
Cellist Yi-Mei Templeman connects with a wide range of audiences by blurring the lines of classical music performance. She aims to creatively fuse genres, and to rethink the typical presentation of classical music in order to welcome people of all ages, backgrounds and musical worlds into her distinctly emotive storytelling. Yi-Mei has performed throughout Asia, South America, Canada, and the United States, bringing her music to venues such as Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, Walt Disney Hall, Jordan Hall, MIT, and the Nokia Theater. She has spent past summers at Yellow Barn’s Young Artists Program and the Tanglewood Institute, where she was principal cellist of the Young Artists Orchestra. She also toured Taiwan with the National Taiwan Youth Symphony and performed in the International Piatigorsky Festival alongside cellists Sol Gabetta, Mischa Maisky, and many others. Yi-Mei has participated in masterclasses with Lynn Harrell, Paul Watkins, and Norman Fischer, as well as members of the Takacs, Brentano, and St. Lawrence String Quartets. She has worked extensively with mentors Vivian Weilerstein, Merry Peckham, Max Levinson, Antonio Lysy, and Clive Greensmith, and studied with LA Phil's associate principal cellist, Ben Hong, for four years. Yi-Mei's previous quartet received first place at the Classics Alive Artist Management Competition.
Especially passionate about educating and forging personal connections with audiences, Yi-Mei was recognized by the TED organization as an international student leader, and was invited to help organize and host a student TED Talks event at their headquarters in NYC. She also brought her cello-playing to outreach events as an ambassador for both the TED-Ed and Classics Alive Artists organizations in hopes of providing more context for classical music outside of the concert hall.
Yi-Mei is currently pursuing a B.M. with Lluis Claret at New England Conservatory. When not practicing or rehearsing, you can find her songwriting for voice and cello-guitar, hunting for vintage thrift stores, solving Rubik’s Cubes, or practicing yoga. You can find her original music on her Instagram, @yimei.cello.