A Portrait of the Dazzling "Eroica Trio,” Three Young Women who Bring Vital, Sexy, Rock'n'Roll Attitude to Classical Music

Film by Alan Miller Premieres Nationally on the Acclaimed Series, Independent Lens Tuesday, December 9th at 10 P.M. on PBS (check local listings) Program companion website, visit

Mary Lugo 770/623-8190
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"They looked like supermodels and played like demons on crack...Rarely does one hear such a combination of sheer physicality, gripping intensity and idiomatic versatility as this threesome served up."
- The Tucson Citizen 

"The women of the Eroica Trio play nothing halfway. Hair flying, bodies heaving, bows shedding hairs left and right...the Eroica achieved gestures of orchestral power and sweep."
- The Washington Post 

(San Francisco, CA)—If the idea of a chamber music trio makes you want to yawn, you haven't seen the Eroica Trio. These three young, beautiful and remarkably talented musicians have shaken up the staid world of classical music with their gutsy, athletic, glamorous style and superb musicianship. Playing with intensity and passion, the genre-busting trio bring their music alive, whether playing to sold out crowds at concert halls around the world or inner-city school auditoriums, where their straight-talking style bridges the gap between Eminem and Beethoven. Directed by Alan Miller, EROICA! airs nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Don Cheadle, on Tuesday, December 9th at 10 P.M. (check local listings). 

EROICA! follows the trio—cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio, violinist Adela Peña and pianist Erika Nickrenz—through one eventful year. The three women, friends since they were young prodigies at music camps and then as students at Juilliard, lead extraordinarily full lives, traveling internationally and giving over 100 performances a year as well as handling the business of their music, marriage and motherhood. What binds them together is a fiercely loyal friendship and an uncompromising work ethic that insists they give nothing but their absolute best for every performance. As chronicled in EROICA!, the trio has commissioned a talented young composer, Kevin Kaska, to write a triple concerto just for them which they plan to premiere several months later. 

Viewers get a fascinating inside glimpse into the solitary and stressful world of the composer, as the deadline for the piece nears and the trio gets increasingly anxious. Will the piece be finished in time? Will the performance be a success? EROICA! offers a thrilling and suspenseful look at what it's like to live in a creative, artistic volcano, one that spews forth some of the most intensely felt, hot-blooded music being created today. 

The program's interactive companion website at features detailed information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker, as well as links and resources pertaining to the film's subject matter. The site also features a "talkback” section, preview clips of the film, and much more. 

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About the Participants 
The Eroica Trio - Erica Nickrenz (Piano), Adela Peña (Violin), Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello). 
Audiences around the world respond with standing ovations to what critics call the "gusto” and "heart stopping mastery” of the Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio. Whether they are playing the great standards of the piano trio repertoire or daring contemporary works, the three young women who make up this world-class chamber ensemble electrify the concert stage with their combination of technical virtuosity, vivid artistic interpretation and contagious exuberance in performance. 

The Eroica Trio is on the vanguard of a new generation of artists who are changing the face of classical music. One of the first all-female chamber ensembles to reach the top echelons of its field, the Eroica trio is helping to break an age-old gender barrier. The Trio took its name from Beethoven's passionate Third Symphony. Italian for "heroic,” it is a word that aptly reflects the ensemble's approach to their art. The trio won the prestigious 1991 Naumburg Award, resulting in an acclaimed Lincoln Center Debut, and has since toured the United States, Europe and Asia. 

While maintaining this demanding concert schedule, the Eroica Trio has released five celebrated recordings for Angel/EMI Classics Records, garnering multiple Grammy nominations. During the 2002-2003 season, the Eroica Trio performed throughout the United States and abroad. Highlights of the season include tours of Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, as well as a star-studded concert at Carnegie Hall celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Steinway & Sons. In 2001-2002, the trio premiered Kevin Kaska's Triple Concerto with the St. Louis Symphony and conductor Hans Vonk, and undertook an extensive tour of Asia and the United States. The Eroica Trio performs the Beethoven Triple Concerto more frequently than any other trio in the world, having appeared with the Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and others. 

In addition to this demanding concert and recording schedule, the Eroica Trio is committed to music education, giving concerts, master-classes and special children's shows at schools and colleges throughout the country. They have appeared on numerous television programs including ABC's The View and CBS's The Morning Show and have been featured in magazines such as Elle, Glamour and Vanity Fair. Grand Marnier created a new cocktail dubbed "The Eroica" while Chateau Sainte Michelle, a vineyard in Seattle, also named one of their vintage Rieslings in honor of the Trio. The women who make up the Eroica Trio are all top-ranked, award-winning soloists and have performed on many of the world's great stages. 

Pianist Erika Nickrenz, who made her concerto debut at New York's Town Hall at the age of 11, was a featured soloist on the PBS series Live from Lincoln Center and has enjoyed a solo career that has taken her across America and Canada, and to Italy, Switzerland and Australia. 

Violinist Adela Peña garnered first prize at the Washington International competition and has toured extensively as a soloist in the United States, Europe and South America. 

Cellist Sara Sant'Ambrogio's international successes include a 1986 bronze medal at the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Cello Competition in Moscow, resulting in concert tours around the world and her performance in the 1991 Grammy award-winning recording of Leonard Bernstein's Arias and Barcaroles. In addition, she has enjoyed collaborating on rock CDs and movie soundtracks. 

The trio members share a unique history and have known each other since childhood. Erika and Adela began performing together at age nine. Three years later, Erika and Sara studied both piano and chamber music with Isabelle Sant'Ambrogio, Sara's grandmother. As a teenager, Adela coached chamber music with Sara's father and first teacher, John Sant'Ambrogio, principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony. In the early years of the Eroica Trio, coaches included Mr. Sant'Ambrogio as well as Erika's father, the noted violist Scott Nickrenz. Since the Trio signed with Angel/EMI Classics Records, all of its CDs have been produced by Erika's mother, three-time Grammy Award winner Joanna Nickrenz. Future musicians Zachary and Neal, born to Erika and Adela in the spring of 2001, were recently welcomed into the Eroica Trio Family. The Eroica Trio is based in New York City where its members maintain a close musical and personal friendship. More information about the group can be found online at 

Composer Kevin Kaska 
The music of American composer, arranger and conductor Kevin Kaska has been played by John Williams and Keith Lockhart at the Boston Pops, the London Symphony Orchestra (five CDs), the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, as well as over by 40 symphony orchestras nationwide. Since 1999, he has served as the music director of the Boston Metropolitan Orchestra. Kaska has worked with Arturo Sandoval, Maynard Ferguson, the Eroica Trio, Seiji Ozawa and the Scottish Rite Freemasons. About the Filmmakers Alan Miller (Director) has worked as director in a variety of fields including theatre (Whacked!, Measure for Measure) and film (Size 10 Stilletoes). Miller has directed music videos in Canada and Europe as well as various television programs primarily dealing with culture. In addition to film making, Miller is also a writer; Seven Days in a Decade was his first novel. He is currently in pre-production on a feature film called Intervention which will shoot on location in New York in October, 2003. 

Mary Strauss (Executive Producer), along with her late husband Leon, saved the historic St. Louis Fox Theatre, a 4,500-seat movie palace. As one of the co-owners of the Fox Theatre and Fox Theatricals, she has won three Tony Awards for Producing: in 1999, for Best Revival of a Play, Death of a Salesman; in 2001, for Best Revival of a Play, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; and in 2002, for Best Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. Currently, Strauss serves as President of Art Access, Inc. She has also served as president of the St. Louis International Film Festival for five years and has produced numerous film retrospectives and revues. 

About Independent Lens 
Independent Lens is a weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker to write "Watching Independent Lens ... is like going into an independent bookstore—you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted.” Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further information about the series is available at lens. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS. 

About ITVS 
Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People. 


Posted on July 23, 2003