percussion

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

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!

PASIC

Had a blast experiencing this year's PASIC (that's Percussive Arts Society International Convention for you non-percussionists) last week in San Antonio.  In addition to catching up with all my percussion friends, heroes and frenemies from around the world, I had the honor of sharing the stage with Gwen Dease, Ji Hye Jung, and Paul Fadoul as part of a keyboard showcase concert featuring music for percussion and…not-percussion! Hannah and I played Andy Akho's 21, and we were treated some some great Klatzow from Ji Hye and Eli Lara, some great marimba/trombone/bass music from Gwen and cohorts, and Lawler/Fadoul's sweet new Roshanne Etezady preludes.  

Big Screen, small audience! 

Look ma!

Other highlights: Percussion at Princeton's amazing booth—I bought a ton of music—seeing Vic Caccese shill for Sandbox Percussion's new NYU summer program (apply!), and indulging my inner high-school drumline fanboy. Thanks to the great people at Vic Firth and Zildjian for their support.  Yay percussion!

Pre-Show Banner Selfie!

Pre-Show Banner Selfie!