Billy Shepherd (piano)
was born in Camden, SC and began formal piano study with Sandra Crater at Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy (Camden), a private college preparatory school founded to serve the children of freedmen. Billy continued piano study, at age twelve, with John Adams, Artist-In Residence at the University of SC School of Music, Columbia.
After a short period of work at London Records – NY headquarters, he resumed piano studies with Joel Spiegelman, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY.
Returning to South Carolina, Mr. Shepherd became a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in piano performance with Raymond Dudley at the University of SC – School of Music.
Mr. Shepherd has produced and performed in various concert series at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County. He & Susan Harper, Executive Director of Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, co-founded the Celebration Gospel Ensemble, a nine-voice a cappella group that has performed throughout South Carolina, including concert collaborations with Hootie and the Blowfish, Edwin McCain and BeBe Winans.
Mr. Shepherd was invited by Sylvia Upton Wood, philanthropist and Camden resident, to become pianist of the Trio in 1989. Mrs. Wood commissioned the Trio to present chamber music concerts for artistically underserved in Kershaw County schools. His leadership inspired the creation of five independently produced compact discs. The first being a recording of Tchaikovsky’s A minor Trio; the second, Carmen/Mendelssohn Trio II with violinist Mary Lee Taylor and cellist Jacqueline Taylor. The third CD was their most daring, ambitious, and successful project to date.
The Evolutions CD, contained a specially commissioned jazz suite by Dick Goodwin, Shostakovich’s E Minor Trio, and Mary Lee Taylor’s compositional debut, “Trilogy” quickly sold out, charted on local radio, and was broadcast coast-to-coast on NPR.
"Transformations" is the fourth CD. It is a reprise of the Trio's New York debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The program is all Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian. "Transformations" is available on I-Tunes, CD Baby and Amazon. com.
"These Are Different Times," the fifth CD, is produced and distributed world-wide by Albany Records. It is available from all major online and retail vendors. Excerpts of positive reviews by state, national and international critics can be found in the press kit.
In 2005 Mr. Shepherd developed a unique educational program that uses original piano trios to teach sciences, social studies, history, art and literature. A new piece is commissioned each year that is inspired by subjects in these academic areas. An assessed outreach program is designed, targeting artistically underserved elementary students. The purpose is to expose youth through live performance to original classical music and to improve academic competence. Results of the education outreach have been consistently positive. The Trio's education programs are funded by The Frederick S. Upton Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC, Hootie and The Blowfish Foundation, SC Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Costal Community Foundation of SC, Kershaw County Endowment of Central Carolina Community Foundation, the Kershaw County School District, local businesses and individuals.
NBC Nightly News, anchored by Tom Brokow, featured The Upton Trio in a piece focused on the National Endowment for the Arts work in rural America.
In addition to artistic and business management of the Trio, Mr. Shepherd is active in the performance of sacred music, enjoys road biking and landscape gardening. He resides in Camden, SC with his partner of thirty years, Andrew Mills, an architect and scenic designer and their greyhound rescues.
Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian (violin)
started playing the violin at the age of 5. She played chamber music with her parents and sister since childhood. At 15 she played in the SCPO (Then the Columbia Philharmonic). After graduating from USC, she then went to California to play with the San Jose Symphony. In 1990 she won the chair of principal second violin in the Nashville Symphony. In 1997 she joined the Upton Trio. The two share a unique chemistry and charisma in their ensemble which few performers can match.
In the busy life of a gigging musician, there is little time to take a breather–except in the summertime. In the dog days of 2003 Ms. Taylor began dusted off an old song she made up back in her Nashville days, built on it, and came up with Trilogy.
Having little formal training in composition, there was no way of knowing how the world would respond, but audiences seemed to really like it. A copy of the Evolutions CD ended up on the desk of the host of NPR’s Theme and Variations. He broadcast Trilogy hailing it as a piece of modern chamber music that was accessible and listenable.
On the one year anniversary of 9/11 a ferocious syncopated piece on piano started to be heard played in the Taylor household. This became Evocation: In Memoriam (September 11, 2001).
The following summer, as a follow up to their school concert programs, Mary Lee decided to compose American Dance Suite from all genres of American music.
Summer of 2004 saw a radical idea. In addition to being a musician Ms. Taylor is also an avid science fiction fan and a brilliant mathematician. One night while reading the thought came to her. What about crossing disciplines?
Fundamental Forces: The Music of Science was born! This is the first expression of the fundamental forces of the universe (gravity, electromagnetism etc.) not in mathematical terms but in musical terms.
Four Elements took it a step farther and represented a quantum leap forward in her composition. With the movements of “Currents of Air,” “River Rythms,” “Mother Earth” and “Firedance” she shows a greater depth and complexity than she ever showed before.
Critically acclaimed piano trios have followed. "The American Story," "From Bach to Rock and Beyond," "Scenes from South Carolina" and "Journey to Mars."
Taylor Kinosian is an active soloist. She has performed the concertos of Weill, Mozart and Brahms with the SC Philharmonic and regional orchestras (see reviews). She is Concertmaster of the South Carolina Philharmonic and Assistant Concertmaster of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. see www.scphilharmonic.com for more details.
Dusan Vukajlovic (cello)
was born into a musical family in Belgrade, Serbia and began to play the cello at the early age of five.
He obtained his undergraduate degree from the Belgrade Music Academy and went on to study with Martha Gerscefski at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he completed his Masters degree in 2003. Following that he spent a year studying with Johanne Perron at the Lynn University in Florida.
Dusan has been active as an orchestral musician since an early age and performed regularly with the Belgrade Philharmonic as well as with various orchestras in Georgia and Florida. As a soloist he has had a successful career which began with winning the first prize at the Yugoslavian National Cello Competition in Sarajevo in 1987. Two years later he was a member of the piano trio (Do-mi-sol) that won the first prize in the National Chamber Competition in Dubrovnik. In 1991, he won the first prize at a chamber competition in Stressa, Italy. In addition he regularly performed on national radio and television. Dusan has participated in master-classes with Tim Eddy, Bonnie Hampton, Kiril Rodin and Ksenija Jankovic.
Dusan is first cellist of the SC Philharmonic and recently received rave reviews for his performance of Friedrich Gulda's "Concerto for Cello and wind Band." Critic David Lowry wrote, "Dusan Vukajlovic latched on to the 1980 work with a vengeance. This is no passive, sweet, heart-warming cello number. It is a work embracing classical forms and non-classical forms, with suggestions of jazz and rock'n'roll, but more importantly, it offers a rewarding view of how the art of virtuosity can be employed in the 21st century. Vukajlovic rose to the occasion and played the very fast passages brilliantly. It was the soloist's riveting, five-minute cadenza movement that captivated the audience. The demands on the cellist were high, with three and four-part chords; nontraditional harmonies; ventures into harmonics that rivaled high notes on a violin; and combinations of intense melodic, nearly romantic melodies." (Free Times, Oct. 19-25, 2011)
Currently, Dusan is working towards completing his DMA with Robert Jesselson at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.