Summer Recording Vibes

Back for the last few days of Avaloch after a few recording projects.

First, we hit Rocking Horse Studio to track Susan Kander’s Eavesdropping, a setting of Michelle Boisseau poems for soprano, violin, and percussion.  Victoria, Jacob and I premiered this piece in Kansas City at the beginning of the year, and it was nice to spend some time getting closer to the piece.

Almglocken and saw blade

Almglocken and saw blade

Then it was down to Oktaven Audio with energy-bomb Thomas Kotcheff to  lay down his “then and then and then this” for cello & percussion.  Thomas’ piece is explosive, full of life, and incredibly virtuosic. For most the piece, I play a wooden salad bowl, subjecting it to the most chops-infused playing I can muster.  We also devised a setup of wooden planks, tiny woodblocks, glass bottles, and junk metal objects. Oh, and a Squirrel Buster.

Inspecting the chaos

Inspecting the chaos

Thomas came to Avaloch last year to work on the piece with us, and it’s been really fun to see how it developed. This was a true collaboration, and both Hannah and I made many suggestions on our parts to ensure that they are idiomatic, soundful, and fun. 

In both cases, we spent a few days at Avaloch in intense rehearsal. I can’t wait to share the results with the world soon.

Thomas shows off his marimba chops

Thomas shows off his marimba chops

St. Louis Snare Drum

Had a great time in St. Louis for Nina and Scott Andrews’ Missouri Chamber Music Festival. This concert was a Hannah Lash focus show, and it was a delight to hear so much of her amazing music and witness her phenomenal harp playing on the Debussy Trio and her version of the Schumann Fantasy (whoah…).

Be still my heart

Be still my heart

I was honored they let me share Hannah Lash’s Start, her contribution to Unsnared Drum. It was my first time playing a snare drum solo for a chamber music festival audience, and I hope I didn’t scare anyone away. It was NOT my first time eating cookies at Comet Coffee and otherwise stuffing my face in St. Louis’s amazing food scene. I was honored to play Hannah’s Folk Songs with her at the harp.

Looking forward to more performances of Start alongside the other Unsnared Drum works. Next up—PASIC 2019.

Cleveland

Back at Avaloch after a great few days in Cleveland for Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project’s Re:Sound Festival. Congrats to Noa and Sophie for all their work organizing the events.

NMC presented George Lam’s The Emigrants and Christopher Stark’s The Language of Landscapes, two amazing pieces about important issues facing our society. We also premiered Andrew Lucia’s stunning new video for The Language of Landscapes. It was also great to share a bill with andPlay, our NYC-based nemesis duo (just kidding).

pc Emanuel Wallace

pc Emanuel Wallace

Friends!

Friends!

Next up, the music of Hannah Lash in St. Louis, for which I’ll be busting out my trusty cheat sheets:

Unsnared Drum Update

As you might remember, I'm embarking on a commissioning and recording project with the goal of changing how people think about the snare drum.  After the premiere of her wonderfully creative Heart.Throb last month in Lawrence, I sat down with Nina Young to talk about how she approached writing for the snare drum.  I'm looking forward to recording her piece soon, but in the meantime, you can watch some of our conversation, which quickly devolved into an extended improvisation on her Marvin.

Blue Skin of the Sea

Tonia Ko’s Blue Skin of the Sea is now out on Vic Firth’s YouTube channel. Evan and Kevin at Four/Ten Media filmed the piece with me in February 2017, and we’re thrilled to share it with the world.  

Blue Skin of the Sea, commissioned in 2014 by a consortium of percussionists organized by myself, takes  a closer look at the “skin” of the marimba by exploring what Tonia calls the “intimate, horizontal world of marimba bars” and the way the instrument’s sound seems to float several feet above the instrument. At the same time, Tonia uses the distinctive way the marimba’s sound is created to steer the work’s large-scale structure, creating a gradual timbral transformation from soft/resonant to dry/brittle and back again. The 1st and last movements emerge from the 5th partial above the marimba’s lowest C with a wiggling grace, while the 4th is a combination of the Hawaiian lullaby “Pupu Hinuhinu” (“Shiny Shells”), ragtime xylophone, and a tuning ditty used by “a classroom full of fourth graders strumming tiny toy ukuleles in not quite unison.” The 3rd movement (“Curiouser”) is a rustle-y interlude.  The 2nd movement—the piece's musical center—is a flabbergastingly unique world of melodic scrapes.

Blue Skin fuses inspiration, form, musical content, and performance practice in a unique and poetic manner. In my opinion, it’s one of the most creative marimba pieces in recent memory, and certainly  one of the most expressive works I’ve commissioned.  Hope you enjoy!