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The Sapphire Trio was formed in 1998 to explore both the standard and newly created literature for clarinet, violin and piano, bringing to the concert stage the master works that exist in the repertoire. The artists are university faculty members from the Pacific Northwest-USA, and are active as soloists, chamber musicians, master teachers and clinicians, appearing regularly in performances and festivals throughout the Northwest region, the United States, and abroad. Their concerts feature a wide range of repertoire from Khachaturian to Gershwin, and often include multi-media presentations.

The Sapphire Trio has been featured as the headline performance for several state, national and international conferences. An exciting part of their mission is to serve as cultural ambassadors in international concert events and exchanges. The Sapphire Trio is committed to continuing this legacy of fine art music, celebrating its universal language across the globe, and upholding the art of chamber music as an exciting and dynamic performance genre.

Their concerts include a wide range of new works, traditional works and transcriptions, along with stories and vignettes about the composers and the music. In addition to formal concerts the trio presents lecture-recitals and master classes in K-12 schools and collegiate concert series.  In 2006 the Sapphire Trio served as Cultural Ambassadors for the United States in the Persian Gulf, performing concerts and speaking about American music in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. They have maintained an international touring schedule since 1999. They have also served as adjudicators for the Palestinian National Music Festival in 2010 and 2012, and have toured, performed and taught in Jerusalem and the West Bank region in 2010, 2011, 2012. They have also been featured headline performers for the Music Teachers National Association conference, (MTNA) and the International Clarinet Festivals (ICA) in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Italy and Spain. In 2016 they were invited guest artists at Corpus University in Bogota, Colombia and featured performing artists for the International EAFIT conference in Medellin, Colombia. 

About the artists

Dr. Maxine Ramey served as the Director of the School of Music at the University of Montana, and was  Professor of Clarinet studies since 1992. In 2008 she was named a School of Fine Arts Distinguished Professor and was the Director of the School of Music’s Vienna Program.  From 2010-2016 she was President, President-elect Secretary of the International Clarinet Association. Her students have gone on to be performers, professors, composers, and all manner of musical entrepreneurs. She has received four meritorious teaching awards at UM and in 2013 she was awarded UM’s Administrator of the Year. As a performer and member of the Sapphire Trio, she toured 45 U.S. States, Japan, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Korea, South America and extensively in the Middle East. She has premiered works by Vincent Persichetti and David Maslanka. As Solo/Principal Clarinet with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, she premiered new works by Jean Francaix, Jacques Casterede and William Bolcom during the 1986 re-lighting ceremonies at the Statue of Liberty. Washington Post reviews call her performances "Refreshing, fluid and idiomatic". The Albuquerque Journal states “...she demonstrates extraordinary performing skills” Dr. Ramey is a Smithsonian Lecturer for the Smithsonian Journeys©  program. She holds degrees from Arizona State University and Michigan State University (M.M. and D.M.A. with her mentor Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr) and is a Henri Selmer Paris Performing Artist.
Dr. Margaret Nichols Baldridge is the string coordinator and professor of violin at the University of Montana and combines an extensive performance calendar with an active teaching schedule.  Dr. Baldridge’s diverse performances include concerts with The Sapphire Trio around the United States and abroad. In 2012 Dr. Baldridge and The Sapphire Trio returned to Jerusalem to judge the Palestinian National Music Competition and to perform in the region. Dr. Baldridge recently received outstanding reviews for her 2012 performances at The Park City Chamber Music Festival. Dr. Baldridge is concertmaster of the Missoula Symphony, leader of the String Orchestra of the Rockies, and violinist in the Montana Piano Trio. For nine summers she was artist faculty at the renowned Brevard Music Center.  The violin and viola professor at The University of Montana since 1992, Dr. Baldridge is also a sought after teacher across Montana and the Northwest. Dr. Baldridge earned Doctor of Musical Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from The Eastman School of Music and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University.
Dr. Jody Graves maintains an exciting, diverse and active performing career, and is recognized nationally as a distinguished concert artist and teacher of piano.  Her recital engagements as a solo artist and collaborative pianist take her across the United States and abroad.  In 2019 she was honored with a Distinguished Service Award from the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy and in October 2019 she was inducted into the Steinway Piano Teacher Hall of Fame by the Steinway Company in New York.  She has performed concerts and given master classes in Europe, Asia, South America, and in the Middle East. Dr. Graves is in great demand as an adjudicator for piano competitions and festivals and she has an active schedule each year as a workshop presenter for teachers.  Ms. Graves has been a presenter and Keynote Speaker at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, has been a presenter and performer at numerous State and National MTNA conferences such as the National MTNA Conference and the International Workshops. She currently serves as the NW Division Director and on the national board of directors for the Music Teachers National Association. Her 4th recording project ‘ANANDA – Notes from the Heart’ features the music of Brahms, Liszt, Copland and others.  Graves has been a soloist with several symphonies, and will be featured with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra in the 2022 season in the original scoring of Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’.  Graves is especially interested in promoting concert art music, creating unique and contemporary ways to foster a collaborative experience between artist and listener, and is dedicated to maintaining the life of music in our schools and culture.  Ms. Graves is recognized for her creative ability to engage the audience during her concerts with anecdotes, historical perspectives, stories and humor. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Piano Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music Conservatory in Rochester, New York and is currently Professor of Piano Performance Studies and Graduate Program Director at Eastern Washington University.

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