"My husband Rick and I are longtime supporters of the Upton Trio and have had the
pleasure of attending many of their concerts over the years. We have always been delighted,
astounded by the exceptional musicians – but the May 17 th concert held in the Arts Center of
Kershaw County’s “blackbox” reached an entirely new level. The performance was astounding.
      The trio, composed of Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian, violin, Billy Shepherd, piano, and
Dusan Vukajlovic, cello, featured selections “The Carnival of the Animals,” Camille Saint-
Saens, “The American Dance Suite,”Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian, and “Trio #2 in E Minor, Opus
92,” Camille Saint-Saens.
      Billy Shepherd gave an absolutely phenomenal performance of the three pieces, but “Trio
#2,” one of the most remarkable piano trio masterpieces, often called the greatest French piano
trio of the nineteenth century, was particularly impressive. I took a peek at the score, awed and
terrified by the overwhelming notes on the page. Even the composer himself was said to refer to
the first movement as “black with notes.” I sent a personal message of “Bravo” to Billy for his
mastery of this challenging music.
      Dusan Vukajlovic did not merely play the cello, he seemed to merge into it, a harmonious
blend of man and machine. Always somewhat true - as a cellist literally embraces the cello - but
on this exceptional night, there appeared to be no distinction between musician and instrument,
as they were truly one. He enchanted the audience with his emotional interpretation of the lovely
movement, “The Swan” in “The Carnival of the Animals.”
      Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian joined Billy and Dusan as the unifying force of the three, as
the voice of a violin often will. Concert-goers were totally engaged with her composition,
“American Dance Suite.” This brilliant piece of Americana resonates in our history, heritage,
and hearts as the movements embrace the cultures of the Native American spirit, the frontiers,
the blues, the tango, climaxing in a finale that stirs the senses to see and feel as well as hear.
      The pace of the chosen selections allowed no time to rest. No sooner had one movement
ended, than the next began. Although all knew and properly observed concert etiquette, it was
nearly impossible to wait until the finale of a piece before applauding and cheering. Sighs, intakes of               breath, whispered praise could still be heard throughout the sustained vibrations of a
note or chord.
      The zoological fantasy, “The Carnival of the Animals” is so pleasing, it stirs childlike
sentiments of the lion, the hens, the elephant, the donkey and others. But the intricacies of the
melodies and musical demands of the performers are far from simplistic. I searched my
collection of classical sheet music, hoping to find Saint-Saens’ “Carnival,” inspired to play
images of a gliding swan or hopping kangaroo, as did the Upton Trio. But I had to order the
music, stressing “intermediate” piano arrangements, NOT “advanced!”
      Perhaps the venue contributed to the wonder of the evening, the blackbox providing an
intimate setting and perfect backdrop for the players - a blank canvas, free of adornment, fancy
lighting, or sound enhancement. Small round tables, seating two to four were covered with crisp
linen, and simple bud vases of flowers. The trio needed no help from extraneous embellishments,
as they held the audience spellbound for two hours.
      I cannot overstate the poignant intensity that filled the room as attendees were stunned to
silence, all seeming to hold a collective breath as the trio mesmerized all – the talent on display,
the elegant interpretations, the powerful sound, the meticulous attention to detail – to each other!
      Yes! That’s what I’ve been searching for – the passion of the trio, and their attention to
each other in a singleness of purpose and person. Billy, Dusan and Mary Lee represent the
epitome of musical artistry as individuals, but together, they are beyond measure. Like Dusan
and his cello, the three were one that night, as never before.
      Anyone who can attend a concert of the Upton Trio is blessed and will enjoy a unique
experience of the highest level. Fortunately, several opportunities are available as the trio has
scheduled performances: June 11 th , 7:00pm at St, Matthew’s Anglican Church in Darlington
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and June 20 th , 7:30pm at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in
Columbia (www.stjohnneumannsc.com)
      I am not a performance musician or virtuoso, simply a devotee of the arts, in particular,
music. It is an honor to share these words, offered with love and the utmost humility."

- Paddy Bell, author, playwright, and lyricist – The Chronicle Independent  



“Upton Trio brings a fresh approach to the classics. Without watering it down, they make classical music fun…”
- Michael Miller – The State

“Sit back…and let the Upton Trio demonstrate how expressive chamber music can be.”
- Otis R. Taylor, Jr. – The State

“The Upton three did good work…[Trio No. 2 C minor]…with Mendelssohn’s glorious music, the hymn and the lovely surroundings, I thought I had died and gone to heaven…”
- Greg Barnes – Free Times

“[In] The Kurt Weill concerto…Mary Lee Taylor proved a most laudable virtuoso, playing incredibly difficult rhythms and wide ranges of pitch, making it all seem quite effortless. It was a first-class performance.”
- David Lowry – Free Times

“The work [Mozart concerto #5] cannot attain such an interest unless a violinist who understands the style and has a mastery of the instrument plays it. Columbia’s own Mary Lee Taylor is such a violinist…Her sensitivity to the style and command of elegant tempi made the performance a total joy.”
- David Lowry – Free Times

“…particularly in the sparkling and mercurial Scherzo [Mendelssohn Trio #1], where pianist Billy Shepherd distinguished himself with fleet finger work and just the right sound. The audience chuckled with delight at the end…Shepherd played with wonderful brio, and used his bravura with musical taste.”
- John Adams – Chronicle-Independent

“The concert of Jewish music included Mendelssohn’s Trio in D Minor…played magnificently…especially by pianist Billy Shepherd…at several times, members of the audience gasped in appreciation of the …virtuosity and beauty of the music.”
- Ivy Moore – The Sumter Item


“It is hard to imagine a more pleasant way to spend an afternoon than by listening to…the Upton trio…the concert…(was) played magnificently…At several times, members of the audience actally gasped in appreciation of the musician’s virtuosity and the beauty of the music.”
—Ivy Moore of The Sumter Item

“The Upton Trio received not one, but two standing ovations..the audience thought you were magnificent!…The Trio is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!”
—Jeffrey Black, Producer “Cypress After 5?

“…It was absolutely outstanding…All of us appreciated your superb performance and were most pleased with the audence’s enthusiastic response.”
—Robert Moses, Producer-Temple

“The Upton Trio (is) among the best chamber music ensembles currently extant. Their performance was flawless…the audience was enraptured…our Temple was overflowing…I heard nothing but praise…”
—Irving Folger, Temple of Israel, Wilmington, N.C.

“I still receive enthusiastic praise of the concert by patrons who stop me in passing to ask ‘When will they be back?’ They were charmed and transported to another place by the technical gifts, creative fancy…as you put energy and life into the music.”
—Jonathan Dozier, Dir. Arts council Marion County