Archive for the “Percussion” Category

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY4bL_bO8sA[/youtube]

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Pyramid and Michelle Yom at Labotanica (Houston, TX)

This Friday, October 1st at 7pm, Michelle Yom will present her sound performance installation Back To Imagined Spaces at Houston’s alternative arts and music venue Labotanica located at 2316 Elgin Street. This is a part of Labotanica’s ongoing Hear/Her/Ear series spotlighting women in experimental music.

I got a chance to hear Michelle last month in a solo vocal set at Avant-Garden where she recorded and looped her singing in real time to additively build a series of haunting chorales. Michelle is perhaps best known as a flautist with a strong classical technique and the skills and imagination of a great improviser. Her flute and drums duo Doggebi features Michelle with drummer Spike The Percussionist – a musician I name checked in my Houston Mixtape #3: The Epicenter Of Noise – freely and (almost) breathlessly improvising music that is somehow stark yet filled with a minutiae of details.

Back To Imagined Spaces imagines the human body as a collection of cells that sing and are heard in a “self-imposed timeless space” contained within the pyramid Michelle has constructed inside Labotanica. Regarding the music she will perform, Michelle writes: “The first set is a series of staccato vocalizations with syllables from the mantra, Asato Ma Sad Gamaya, processed through seven delays. The second set will be a live performance of tonal pieces titled Heart, Ears, Kidney, and Stomach, also using vocal sounds. The pieces are intended to capture a version of imaginary but prudent sounds, much like taking a microscope and focusing the lens into singing, living cells.”

Also on Friday’s program are performances by artist, vocalist and electronic composer Melanie Jamison and Labotanica’s tireless curator, visual and sound artist Ayanna Jolivet McCloud.

There is a $5 cover charge for the show. All proceeds go to the musicians. Michelle Yom’s installation will be up October 1st through October 9th, 2010.

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Heads-up, listeners! WPRB‘s Classical Discoveries host Marvin Rosen has a couple nice treats through the day this Wednesday:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 11:00am (EDT) Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde will present the world premiere broadcast of Morton Feldman‘s 21-minute ‘lost work’ Dance Suite [For Merle Marsicano] (1963), recorded by Glenn Freeman, percussion and Debora Petrina, piano-celeste. This is ahead of its September limited-edition release on OgreOgress Records. Originally composed for the dancer and choreographer Merle Marsicano, it was the longest work Feldman had composed to date and provides insight into his upcoming 1964 solo percussion work The King of Denmark. This very unique and haunting sound world, created with various keyboards, mallet instruments and exotic percussion instruments, can later be heard in several of Feldman’s epic length works of the late 1970s and 1980s.

Then from 12:00pm till 2:00pm (EDT), world-renowned Israeli cellist and new-music champion Maya Beiser — whose latest and most excellent CD release Provenance is riding high in the charts – will join Marvin live in the WPRB Studio to chat and perform.

As always, NYC’ers can tune in directly to WPRB at 103.3 FM on the dial; everyone else can head to the WPRB website and click the “Listen Now” link on the left side of the page.

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Detail of Terry Berlier's "Stair Drum," one of three percussive sculptures for "The 41st Rudiment"

On Friday, April 30, 2010, my ensemble, Great Noise Ensemble, will present the last concert of our 2009-10 concert season.  The program, presented at Ward Hall, on the campus of the Catholic University of America at 7:30 p.m. (Visit www.greatnoiseensemble.com for tickets if you’re in the Washington region this Friday), is a unique program featuring a new work for mixed ensemble and sculpted percussion by composer D.J. Sparr in collaboration with artist Terry Berlier of Stanford University.  The 41st Rudiment, named after the 40 “rudiments” that percussionists study as they develop their craft, represents one more rudiment indicative of the experimental nature of Berlier’s instruments.  It was written for percussionist Christopher Froh, of the San Francisco Contemporary Chamber Players, and Great Noise Ensemble.

D.J. Sparr initially pitched the piece that would become The 41st Rudiment to Great Noise Ensemble’s board some five years ago.  “The idea came through wanting to work with Chris Froh,” he says, “whom  I had seen out on an amazing concert in Ann Arbor years back. I was in the Bay Area, so we went out for drinks, and over the course of the conversation we talked about finding instruments at a hardware store… and somehow, collectively we came up with the idea that we should ‘build something.’  From there, we started talking about what that would be, who might be interested collaborating with us, etc.”  After searching for an appropriate collaborator it was Froh who suggested that they work with Terry Belier.  “Terry and I worked on another project together a few years ago with the Empyrean Ensemble and Italian composer, Luciano Chessa.  I played one of her sculptures then (an earlier “panlid gamelan”) and fell in love with her aesthetic.  When D.J. and I first started talking about this project some five years ago, I suggested asking Terry to be involved.”

“A few years ago,” writes Terry Berlier, “ I was working on a piece called ‘Two pan tops can meet’ (2003) which was based on the homophobic Jamaican saying ‘Two pan tops can’t meet.’  (I had worked in Jamaica for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1995-97.) That first piece used thrift store pan lids as speaker housings that played a sound piece. But while I was sifting through the pan lids, I started setting aside the pan lids that resonated strongly.  These eventually became Pan Lid Gamelan I in 2003 and gallery viewers were invited to play it.

In 2008, Composer Luciano Chessa wanted to compose this sculpture/instrument into one of our collaborations (Inkless Imagination IV) and I was excited to have a professional percussionist, Chris Froh, play them. A few years later, Chris asked if I would like to work with him again on making sculptures specifically for him to play and work with D.J. Sparr.”

D.J. Sparr has been building a reputation for many years now as a composer of rhythmically charged and energetic music  (the Alburquerque Tribune once referred to his piece for eighth blackbird, The Glam Seduction as “Paganini on coke”) that merges classical conventions with rock idioms.  The 41st Rudiment is no different, although the rock influence this time is far subtler than in the works that gained Sparr his early reputation.  “I am always influenced by the drama of a rock-and-roll concert, and in this work, the drummer is the superstar… he engages the other players in ways to entice them to join in with him in gestures and call-and-response melodies…much the same as would happen in a rock-band scenario where guitarists, drummers, and bass players trade solos.  This work,” however, “is heavily influenced by the baroque concerto grosso form as the large scale form is comprised of many short movements. There are elements of Bach and Vivaldi, but there are also elements of other things: Satie Gymnopédies; Spanish barcaroles; improvisatory structures such as Zorn’s Cobra; and many cadenzas and improvisation.”

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Columbia’s own Southern Exposure New Music Series and xMUSE (University of South Carolina’s Experimental Music Studio, directed by Reginald Bain) combine forces once again to present an evening of genre-bending music and technology. The Saturday, February 27th, 7:30 p.m concert features Odd Appetite, the New York based duo of performers/composers Ha-Yang Kim (cello) and Nathan Davis (percussion) in works for musically interactive computer software, spatial speaker configurations, amplified triangles, microtonal bells, drums, tuned aluminum pipes, and a de-tuned and amplified cello with stomp boxes and electronic effects, all played with dazzling virtuosity and passion. In addition to music by Davis and Kim, Odd Appetite will also perform Radiohead‘s “Like Spinning Plates” in an arrangement that uses electronic loopers, wine glasses, and whirly tubes.

The concert also features Lois V. Vierk‘s Go Guitars for five electric guitars, influenced by traditional Japanese court music, and Reginald Bain‘s Jovian Images, inspired by NASA photographs of planets and performed by renowned saxophone virtuoso Susan Fancher. Admission is free (USC School of Music Recital Hall, 813 Assembly St.), but early seating recommended.

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Tom NunnI’ve been working so hard today I’ve forgotten to eat, and it’s in that spirit of lightheadedness and poor impulse control that I share with you the following San Francisco Bay Area new music scene update.

The Lab’s 25th anniversary performance series is well underway, and in just one night, they’ll run the gamut of styles celebrating their audacious artistic vision.  On Thursday, July 2nd, Mills College’s own Chris Brown will curate and perform in a concert featuring Charles Johnson, Chad and Curtis McKinney, Tom Nunn and William Winant.

When Johnson et. al. take the stage, you’ll hear amplified string and percussion instruments tuned in just intonation, combined with analog electronics configured to create difference tones.  Chad and Curtis McKinney are twin brothers whose SuperCollider-based computer network music makes a tightly interwoven, visceral and strongly rhythmic combo. Chris Brown will put on his electroacoustic hat, teaming up with instrument inventor Tom Nunn to tangle with legendary percussionist William Winant.

If you can’ t make it this week, never fear, since the series will continue next week with Miya Masaoka and Tomas Phillips on Thursday, July 9th, and a multimedia event the next night with Nao Bustamante, Margaret Tedesco, and Cliff Hengst.  Performance artist Bustamante will embody 1940s Dominican movie starlet Maria Montez, using video and the body as a source of backdrop, narrative, and emotion, taking audiences on a journey all over the body and its bejeweled parts.

The Lab is conveniently located at 2948 16th Street, San Francisco, near the 16th and Mission BART station.  They’ll let you in for $8.00 at the door. For more information, call (415) 864-8855.

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Rova Saxophone QuartetSan Francisco is famous for its innovations, its open minds, and its spirit of protest.  In 2005, according to Rova Saxophone Quartet member Larry Ochs, “our government was committing all sorts of crimes against humanity in all of our names. I wanted to create some art that flew in the face of those acts – but not overtly political because that’s not what we do.”

Rova dreamed up an international collaborative work in honor of the visionary genius of Buckminster Fuller and his “Spaceship Earth” global perspective.  “Good works by people brought together from different countries – if only to point out that it was possible for people to meet for the very first time and in a week of collaboration, create something positive for the spirit, and something that was more than any one of the collaborators could create on his/her own,” Ochs explains.  Berlin-based multimedia artist Lillevan, Swedish-born percussionist Kjell Nordeson, Canadian contrabassist Lisle Ellis, cellist and Kronos Quartet alumna Joan Jeanrenaud, and violinist rock star Carla Kihlstedt make up the international dream team that will join Rova in presenting Fissures, Fixtures: for Buckminster Fuller.

The set of pieces combines live music and digital animation in a continuous feedback loop, with the music influencing the creation of the film in real time, and the film images inspiring the music.  Improvisation, as Larry Ochs declares, will ensure that the piece transcends the individuals involved and becomes more than the sum of its parts.  Rova and friends offer up the piece to honor “someone who over 40 years ago was stating categorically that mankind had to find a way to work together to create a one world-system that benefitted everyone.”

Since both performances will be recorded for future DVD release, this is your chance to immortalize your own applause for contemporary music posterity.  The concert happens twice, on May 22 and 23 in Kanbar Hall at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco located at 3200 California Street.  Tickets are $24.00 general, $21.00 for JCCSF members, and $16.00 for students.  Get them online at www.jccsf.org, and by phone at (415) 292-1233.

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Since 1995 Chicago’s Percussion Scholarship Program has been shaping all kinds of mallet-whackers from grades 3 through 12. The program, under the direction of CSO percussionist Patricia Dash and Douglas Waddell, percussionist with Lyric Opera of Chicago, with amazing direction and arrangements by Cliff Colnot, has been growing something phenomenal. The kids’ musicianship and commitment seems to me every bit as stunning as Dudamel’s Venezuelan El Sistema stuff everybody’s been going gaga over. Don’t believe me? Just take in our young crew’s monster ride through Colnot’s arrangement of Dimitri Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32W2IBkVqUk[/youtube]

Incredible. The group’s big spring concert is coming up again this May 17th, 1:30 pm in Buntrock Hall at the Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue. And it’s free, meaning not much better value can be had for a Sunday’s afternoon.

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It’s hard to imagine a percussionist that you would want to perform your music more than Alex Lipowski. Alex has a passion for the new, the challenging and the unusual and I find him to be one of the most inspirational musicians I’ve ever met. He spent much of our time together explaining how important it is to take risks and to find new and innovative sounds – good advice. You can see Alex and the Talea Ensemble on April 28 at the Players Theatre, 115 Macdougal Street, NYC.

Looking ahead, there will be three episodes in May and I’ll be devoting the month to violists. Check back on May 3 and see what Beth Weisser of the iO Quartet has to say.

Not sure where to find the podcast?

- Subscribe in iTunes here

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- Find it on InstantEncore here

P.S., If you were not able to make it to the bake sale then you missed out on a very special event. Even if you don’t care for all the music it’s hard to deny the sense of community from having so many different groups all in the same room – we are all in this together! Tip of the hat to Newspeak and Ensemble de Sade for making it happen.

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