The Peabody Trio returns to the Barns at Wolf Trap with a program contrasting Romantic German and contemporary Russian composers. It features Mendelssohn's Trio in C minor, Brahms' Trio in C major, a piece for piano and violin by Sofia Gubaidulina, who dabbles in mystical themes, and a short piece by the late Alfred Schnittke. The Peabody Trio won the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1989 and has been at the top of its game ever since. Along with serving as the resident faculty ensemble at Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory, they travel the world performing at chamber music series and festivals, make solo appearances, record, generate special projects, and devote considerable time to teaching individually and at educational residencies.

If you go
The Peabody Trio
Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap
When: 8 p.m., Friday
Info: Tickets: $35 at 1-877-WOLFTRAP (954-3872) or

Pianist Seth Knopp is a member of the piano and chamber music faculties at Peabody. He and his wife, violinist Violaine Melancon, a first-prize winner at the Conservatoire de Musique of Montreal, initially formed a duo and were appointed United States Information Agency artistic ambassadors. Cellist Natasha Brofsky joined the trio 10 years ago. Before her appointment to the cello faculty of the New England Conservatory in 2004, she was on the faculty of the Barratt-Due Musikk Institutt in Oslo, Norway, and was a principal player in the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. She was also a member of the Serapion Ensemble and Opus 3.

A native of New York City, Brofsky grew up in a musical household where both her father and brother were professional musicians. By the age of 6, she had decided that the tone and shape of the cello were exactly to her liking. Today she enjoys teaching young cellists eager to start careers of their own.

"The level of string playing in this country and abroad is very high," she said. "Young musicians face more and more challenges because of the economic situation, but on the other hand, opportunities are growing. They can take advantage of the Internet and learn about open doors that didn't used to exist. Many find their way by doing crossover jobs. The most important advice I give them is to become an excellent musician. Then the jobs should follow."

Each summer, The Peabody Trio heads for Putney, Vt., where Knopp is the artistic director of the Yellow Barn Music School and Festival. The five-week festival draws professional musicians from other countries. Often they remain for the school program, which allows the students to work with them in various combinations.

"The festival features a lot of interesting programs filled with traditional and contemporary music," Brofsky said. "The barn is a very intimate space that allows cool experiences for professional musicians and students alike to play together. Sometimes you can't tell which is which.

"We always look forward to playing in the Wolf Trap Barns. There, and wherever we perform, we encourage the audience to be open to both contemporary and traditional works and to listen for parallels between them. It's our great passion to help them listen actively and enjoy the program."