The University Trio at the University of Tennessee at Martin consists of pianist Elaine Harriss, clarinetist Christa Frye, and flutist Charles Lewis. Dr. Harriss is Professor of Music and teaches piano at UTM. Dr. Frye is an adjunct professor at Murray, UTM, and Bethel University. Mr. Lewis is instructor of flute and theory at UTM.
The University Trio was founded in 1971 by UTM's Artist in Residence, pianist Allison Nelson, with flutist Robert Fleming and clarinetist Gilbert Carp. Elaine Harriss joined as flutist in 1973 and the group flourished through 1988. The trio performed regularly, both on and off campus, and its most prestigious performance was at the Kennedy Center on Tennessee's State Day Program as part of the country's bicentennial celebrations.
After a fifteen year hiatus, the trio was revived in spring 2004 by flutist Elaine Harriss with Michael Walsh on clarinet and Delana Easley on piano. In 2014, Dr. Frye and Mr. Lewis joined the trio.
The musical success of the University Trio made it clear that this combination of flute, clarinet, and piano was a viable and expressive ensemble. Because this instrumentation is not one for which composers routinely compose, the location, selection, and evaluation of literature was a substantial obstacle for the trio. As a result, Dr. Harriss did a thorough research of the music and produced Chamber Music for the Trio of Flute, Clarinet, and Piano: A Bibliographical and Analytical Study for her Ph.D. dissertation in 1981 at the University of Michigan.
In 2004 Dr. Harriss resumed her formal research with this music. A 2005-2006 research grant from UTM's Office of Research, Grants, and Contracts is making possible work with trio music from the past 25 years, and a workshop grant from UTM's Instructional Technology Center is making the dissemination of the bibliography of these works possible.