When members of Trio Ariadne perform at Green Music Center on Friday, they'll be sharing their talents with the public. But most of their time at Sonoma State University is spent on the other side of the stage.
As the school's inaugural Weill Hall Artists-in-Residence, Elizabeth Joy Roe, Carol McGonnell and Saeunn Thorsteindottir are breaking trail, developing a program that teams working artists with undergraduate students.
Over the course of the school year, they will serve as mentors, coaches, teachers and role models, while also maintaining their own careers as working musicians. Their first public performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 in Weill Hall.
"We were drawn to the program because we wanted to play together, and it sounded like an exciting opportunity," said McGonnell, a Dublin-born clarinetist who attended the University of Belfast. She is a founding member of the Argento Chamber Ensemble and now is a doctoral candidate and teaching assistant at Stony Brook University.
Roe is a pianist from Chicago whose solo debut was at the Lincoln Center. She now performs with fellow pianist Greg Anderson in the Anderson & Roe Piano Duo.
Roe and McGonnell met six years ago in a two-year fellowship at The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute. They have performed together ever since.
Cellist Saeunn Thorsteindottir, a native of Iceland and the youngest of the group, also had a fellowship at The Academy and joined the trio in 2010. She is pursuing her doctorate at Stony Brook University while juggling two jobs — the SSU residency and chamber music coach at Mannes College, The New School university's music conservatory on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
At SSU, the women are the first to benefit from a program made possible by Sandy Weill, a donor to both the Green Music Center andCarnegie Hall.
Elizabeth Roe conducts a student performance.
"It is so inspiring to have that level of accomplishment in our midst," said Brian S. Wilson, chair of SSU's Department of Music. "It's infectious for our students and makes people want to get better."
Funding for this year's program comes from the Green Music Center's donor funds, said Thaine Stearns, Dean of Arts and Humanities. Each artist receives a $50,000 salary with benefits, housing and $10,000 to use for travel or other needs.
During their year at SSU they are expected to work with students in a variety of ways. They offer free private lessons in piano, clarinet and cello, for instance, and in the classroom work much like teaching assistants. In the composition studies class, for example, they are helping students write music for Trio Ariadne to perform.
As mentors, they live in the freshman dorms, share insights about life as working artists and even hosted a barbecue for first year music students.
"We have ideas about things we want to accomplish, but there is also some flexibility because it is a pilot program," said Roe. "It is a very nontraditional program.
"Because it is the first year, it is a privilege to help shape the program. It is like an adventure to see what works and what is worth exploring."