About the Trio
Recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces: Chamber Music Grant, Allégresse combines the virtuosic talents of three nationally recognized musicians with careers that have taken them throughout North America, Central and South America, Europe, and Asia both as soloists and chamber musicians. Allégresse, the French word for joy, aptly depicts the graceful artistry of this inspiring trio. Together for nearly 20 years, Annie, Margaret, and Ellen formed this exciting ensemble to explore the rich and varied repertoire for flute, oboe, and piano. They perform frequently on Kansas Public Radio and in 2009 they were awarded the University of Kansas General Research Fund to commission a work by Latin Grammy winner Gabriela Lena Frank.
The trio premiered Frank’s work, Canto y Danza, along with Halo by Bryan Kip Haahiem at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Birmingham, England. Other appearances include the Music Educators National Conference in Washington, D.C., the International Double Reed Society Conference in Ithaca, NY, the Oklahoma City Community College Cultural Arts Series, the Topeka Great Spaces Recital Series, the Ruel Joyce Series at Johnson County Community College (KS), and the University of Kansas Edwards Campus Recital Series. They were invited to perform at the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento, CA., at the Escuela de Bellas Artes at the University of Costa Rica and the Conservatório de Musica in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In 2015, the trio was able to commission two more works for the ensemble. Weapons of MissDestruction, a multi-movement work by Anne M. Guzzo, and Cuando Me Acuerdo De Tí by Costa Rican composer Venico Meza, are both works for flute, oboe, bassoon and piano and were premiered in Tokyo, Japan and San Juan, Costa Rica. Dedicated to expanding the repertoire for the flute, oboe and piano trio, Allégresse has commissioned six new pieces. They can be heard on the CDs Allégresse: music for flute, oboe and piano, Fresh Ink, Gorgeous Nothings, a CD of compositions by Ingrid Stölzel, and Still Life which features the music of Kansas composers and Kansas poet Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.
Annie Gnojek is in high demand as a freelance musician, flute educator and clinician in the Lawrence and Kansas City areas, where she manages a successful flute studio. In addition to her private teaching, she has presented master classes at several schools including Oklahoma State University, Fort Hays State University, University of Northern Colorado, University of Wyoming, Sacramento State University, University of Puerto Rico, and the University of Costa Rica.
Apart from her teaching career, Annie is also the flutist in the trio Allégresse along with Margaret Marco, oboe, and Ellen Sommer, piano. They perform numerous concerts through out the year both nationally and internationally including the world premiere performance of two new trios in Birmingham, England in July 2008, and the world premiere of pieces for flute, oboe, piano and bassoon in Tokyo, Japan in 2015. As the 2008 winners of the National Endowment for the Arts Masterpieces: Chamber Music Grant, her trio toured through Kansas performing all newly commissioned music. Their CD, Fresh Ink, features music commissioned by Allégresse and was released in January 2010.
Annie can be heard on the Allégresse recordings, Allégresse: Music for Flute, Oboe, and Piano (2009) and Fresh Ink (2010). She is featured with her trio on Margaret Marco’s recording Still Life (2019) and can also be heard with Allégresse on the Navona recording of music written by composer Ingrid Stölzel entitled Gorgeous Nothings. Annie performed the music of Brian Kip Haaheim on the soundtrack to the Showtime documentary film Fall From Grace and is the principal flutist on the 2006 Naxos Release of Redline Tango with the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble.
In the summers, Annie is the flute instructor at The University of Kansas Mid-Western Music Camp and the Forth Hay State University High Plains Band Camp. She performs frequently on Kansas Public Radio both with Allégresse and as a soloist. Annie is the principal flutist in the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in flute performance at the University of Kansas where she studied with John Boulton and David Fedele.
The Kansas City Star describes Margaret Marco’s oboe playing as “wistful and utterly engaging,” while the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports “Marco’s deft and lilting expression …was often reminiscent of a soprano’s operatic aria.” Margaret Marco’s “utterly engaging” performances have been heard in Europe, South and Central America, Canada and the United States. Her musical appointments have included principal oboe of the Orquesta Sinfònica de Maracaibo, in Venezuela, the Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy, the Rome Festival Orchestra, Banff Center for the Arts in Alberta, Canada and many others. Margaret has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras including the Orquesta Sinfònica de Maracaibo, the Rome Festival Orchestra, the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, the Dubuque Symphony, the International Center for Music at Park University and the St. Joseph Symphony. She is the Professor of Oboe at the University of Kansas where she has taught since 1998. Her teachers include Ray Still, Grover Schiltz, Dan Stolper, Mark Weiger, Dean Sayles and Nancy Ambrose King. She holds degrees from Northwestern University, The University of Iowa and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana where she earned her doctorate in June 2001.
Margaret is principal oboe of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and performs frequently with the other Kansas City Symphony ensembles. She has served as artist/faculty at the Sunflower Music Festival, the Ameropa Chamber Music Festival in Prague, Czech Republic, the MozartissimoChamber Music Festival in Madrid, Spain, the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee, the Midwestern Music Academy in Lawrence, KS and as artist-in-residence at the University of Costa Rica in San Jose. She was invited to perform at the International Double Reed Society Conferences from 2005-2019 and served on its Executive Committee as Chair of the Fernand Gillet-Hugo Fox Oboe Competition from 2007-2017. Recently, Margaret presented master classes and recitals at Central Conservatory and China Conservatory in Beijing.
A strong advocate for new music for the oboe, Margaret has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mu Phi Epsilon and the University of Kansas to commission, perform and record new chamber works by American composers. As a member of the flute, oboe and piano trio Allégresse, Margaret can be heard on the CDs Allégresse; music for flute, oboe and piano and Fresh Ink. She has presented her lecture/recital Hidden Gems: Music for Oboe and Bass Continuo by Eighteenth-Century French Composers at several prestigious universities and conferences in the States and abroad. Her CD of the same title was released in January of 2009 to critical acclaim. She can be heard performing Quiet City by Aaron Copland with the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble for the NAXOS label and the music of Ingrid Stölzel and Juliana Hall on NAVONA Records. She performed the world premiere of A Siege of Herons for oboe d’amore, strings and percussion by Forrest Pierce with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra in April 2016, a work she commissioned with a generous grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Her most recent CD is entitled Still Life and features new music for oboe, oboe d’amore and English horn by Kansas composers.
Pianist Ellen R. Sommer is a sought-after collaborative pianist, chamber musician, and coach. Her reputation for excellence has led to extensive engagements throughout the United States, Canada, Central and South Americas, Europe and Asia. Recent performances include a recital playing chamber music at the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture in Malibu, California, with Maria Newman, Scott Hosfeld and instrumentalists from the Metropolitan Opera orchestra; and a series of concerts and master classes in San Jose, Costa Rica at the Universidad de Costa Rica, and Casa de la musica in Quito, Ecuador.
Ellen can be heard on numerous professional recordings, including five under the auspices of Potenza Music, Parma, and Albany Records.
Most recently Ellen recorded works of composer, Ingrid Stolzel for Navona Records.
Ellen is a founding member of Allégresse, a fresh and inspiring trio for flute, oboe and piano. Recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces: Chamber Music Grant, the trio’s performances have taken them throughout North America, Central and South America, Europe and Asia. Allégresse is currently completing a third compact disc recording and most recently premiered two commissioned pieces for the trio and soprano.
Ellen serves as a pianist for regional, national and international conferences, competitions and festivals including MTNA, NATS, IDRS, and ICA; as well as concert series and radio broadcasts such as the Dame Myra Hess recital series in Chicago, IL. Ellen is a frequent performer in the live radio broadcast studio at Kansas Public Radio. Additionally Ellen coaches and collaborates at several summer camps and institutes, including the Omaha Conservatory of Music Institute, Brian Lewis Young Artist Program, Sound Encounters Suzuki Strings Camp, Midwestern Music Camp and Interlochen Arts summer camps. Ellen served as the collaborative piano coordinator at Interlochen 2015-2016.
Currently Ellen serves as a Lecturer in Piano at the University of Kansas School of Music. She performs regularly with faculty, visiting artists, and students. From 1994-2003 Sommer taught at Missouri Western State University, both as piano and voice faculty.
In October 2016 Ellen was named one of three Distinguished Alumni from Missouri Western State University in Saint Joseph, MO.