Meet the musicians of the Eroica Trio and the composer featured in the film.
Erika Nickrenz, piano
Nickrenz was born into the world of music. Her mother, Joanna Nickrenz, is a three-time Grammy winning record producer and former concert pianist. Her father, Scott Nickrenz, a violist and founding member of the Lenox, Claremont and Vermeer String Quartets and the Orpheus Trio, directs chamber music at Miami’s New World Symphony and is artistic director of the Gardner Museum Series in Boston.
Nickrenz started playing the piano at age six, and was soon sent to study at the Claudio Arrau School in New York City. When she was nine, she met Eroica Trio violinist Adela Peña at the Greenwich House Music School. The two began playing sonatas together.
At age eleven, Nickrenz made a prodigious debut at New York's Town Hall, where she played Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A Major. At twelve, she met the third member of the Eroica Trio when she attended the Red Fox Music Camp to study with Isabelle Sant'Ambrogio, grandmother of cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio.
The young pianist played chamber music during her education at the Juilliard School, where she received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees and studied with Abbey Simon and Felix Galimir. Since then, Nickrenz has performed as a solo artist and chamber musician at numerous festivals, including Marlboro, Tanglewood and Spoleto. She has recorded several CDs for the Musical Heritage/Music Masters and ASV London labels and is the proud mother of Zachary, born in 2001.
Adela Peña, violin
Born in New York City, Peña began studying the violin at the age of four, studying at the Henry Street Music School and later at the Greenwich House, where she first met pianist Erika Nickrenz. As a teenager, she won Juilliard’s Mendelssohn Violin Competition and the Washington International Competition. Peña then moved on to the pre-college program at the Juilliard School of Music, where she also studied for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees with Felix Galimir and Harry Shub.
In addition to the Eroica Trio, Peña is a member of the New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble and the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, for which she has served as concertmaster. She can be heard on several CDs released by New York Philomusica as well as various recordings of the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble.
Peña has played solo recitals at Carnegie Hall, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and throughout Europe and South America. She was featured in a pan-European television broadcast, "Live From the Sorbonne" and has appeared as a soloist with the English Chamber Orchestra, the Caracas Symphony and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta.
Sara Sant’Ambrogio, cello
Part of the latest generation in a family of artists and musicians that dates back 600 years to Italy's Saint Ambrose, a patron saint of the arts, Sant'Ambrogio was born in Boston, where her father, John Sant'Ambrogio, played cello with the Boston Symphony. He was later appointed principal cellist for the St. Louis Symphony.
At 16, Sant'Ambrogio was invited to study with David Soyer at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Three years later, Leonard Rose heard her play and invited her to Juilliard, where she won the all-Juilliard Schumann Competition and studied under Felix Galimir, who would later serve as a mentor to the Eroica Trio.
In 1986, Sant'Ambrogio won the bronze medal at the International Tchaikovsky Cello competition in Moscow and later performed at Carnegie Hall. In 1991, she performed on the Grammy-winning Koch International recording of Bernstein's Arias and Barcaroles. She has appeared as a soloist with the Saint Louis Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Moscow Philharmonic and the Boston Pops.
Time permitting, Sant'Ambrogio plays ten to fifteen concerts per year outside of the Trio, is featured on movie scores and writes short fiction. While recovering from a broken elbow in 1991, she landed an acting role in the film Winning Colors (Miramax). She is working on a solo album and has recently finished her first children’s book, an adventure story with musical instruments.
Hear some musical highlights from Eroica’s stellar repertoire.
Kevin Kaska, composer
Since 1999, Kaska has served as the music director of the Boston Metropolitan Orchestra. This composer, arranger and conductor’s music has been played by the Boston Pops, the London Symphony Orchestra and the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, as well as more than 40 symphony orchestras nationwide. He has worked with Arturo Sandoval, Maynard Ferguson, the Eroica Trio, Seiji Ozawa and the Scottish Rite Freemasons, and his compositions have been licensed by the Bose Corporation to demonstrate the quality of the company's speakers.