Tomorrow night, the Philidor Percussion Group will premiere Atmosfouricby Michael Ahrens. Mike is a fascinating guy: he’s in his third year in the Master’s program here, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know him in our weekly lessons. He’s taught me a lot about African rhythms, and his background as a drummer for pop bands gives him a great perspective on Classical traditions. I’ll always remember the enthusiastic awe he expressed upon hearing his first live performance by a professional string quartet (it was Miró), admiring how the music got everyone’s full attention, allowing the pieces to filter into respectful silence, instead of losing the endings in the din of audience noise.

A little background: When I found out last spring that Philidor was going to play here, I asked them if they would sponsor a friendly competition for our composers. They agreed enthusiastically, and gave us some loose parameters. The students began working on their compositions in September; the performers chose Mike’s piece just a few weeks ago. Not only will they play it here tomorrow night, they’ll repeat the performance at UNC-Greensboro on February 2nd (Some of you may know that the UNC system has sixteen campuses throughout the state – it’s one of the stronger state university systems in the country).

There were two runner-ups in the competition: works by freshman Alicia Santee and grad student Tom Brennan. They’ll be performed by our student percussion ensemble in April.

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