It is hard to believe that 20 years ago, Mark Ford, Director of Percussion at University of North Texas, released his CD Polaris. I remember listening to Polaris and Suite for Marimba as a student and unfortunately, the music for Suite was not available. Earlier this year, Mark Alan Taggart made the piece available as a free download on Mark Ford’s website. Check it out and add it to your next recital. As always, if you play the piece, be sure to send a program to Mark Alan Taggart. It is a great piece and more people need to hear it. Be the first one to put a recording on YouTube!
ABOUT THE PIECE:
Murmur, was composed for SōSI 2015 (Sō Percussion Summer Institute). A quartet for two vibraphones, murmur features cardboard dowels from coat hangers standing in for more traditional mallets, creating a distinctive ‘thwack’ sound when striking the bars. The result is a blurring of pitch and noise, further explored through the use (or absence) of the pedal. murmur culminates in a chorale featuring ping pong balls and a bow, the percussive attack of the dowels now taken to a very delicate extreme.
I’m grateful to the murmur crew of SōSI 2015 for their incredible efforts and willingness to try the unconventional. Similarly, a very heartfelt thanks to Sandbox Percussion for their hard work and dedication on helping me to finalize murmur and bring it out into the world. They and Evan Chapman teamed up to create the incredible video featured here. Sandbox and Evan are a dream to work with—their unparalleled musicianship, professionalism, and enthusiasm is hard to beat. Plus, they’re totally great guys to hang with! Thanks to Vic Firth for featuring this video…perhaps we’ll see VF dowels or ping pong balls in the future? A final note—Andy Akiho introduced me to using dowels on steel pan during our first year of grad school together. Thanks man!
ABOUT THE COMPOSER:
Coming from a rock guitar background, Dave Molk embarked on jazz performance before shifting his focus solely to composition. Many of Dave’s works are for small ensembles and solo instruments, although recent efforts include orchestra, black box theater, and live-remixing/DJing. He writes mainly for pitched and non-pitched percussion, combining sinuous chromaticism with an energized rhythmic propulsion, expressive timbres, and a healthy dose of glitch. He DJ’s under the name Old Dirty Beathoven and plays the steel pan under the name Dave Molk (he needs to practice more). His current research is in software coding and EDM. Dave Molk is a doctoral fellow at Princeton University.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS:
Brought together by their love of chamber music and the simple joy of playing together, Sandbox Percussion captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning. Through compelling collaborations with composers and performers, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum and Terry Sweeney seek to engage a wider audience for classical music.
Sandbox made their New York debut in 2012 on the Concerts on the Slope series in Brooklyn. Following that performance, they accepted an invitation to become artists-in-residence of the series and have returned in each subsequent season. Later that year, Sandbox worked closely with composer James Wood on his masterpiece Village Burial with Fire at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. While at Norfolk, Sandbox played alongside the great Hungarian percussion quartet Amadinda – Aurél Holló, a member of Amadinda, later said about Sandbox: “With an array of skills, talent and freshness, these young artists seem to be pushing their limits up in the skies, as I realized listening to them at the Yale New Music Workshop. Sandbox Percussion is the promising group of the near future, battering right on your door.”
Last season, Sandbox gave twelve world premieres by composers such as Robert Sirota, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Crowell, Thomas Kotcheff, Alex Weiser, and Tonia Ko. Six of these were works by composition students at the Yale School of Music, and were featured on the New Music New Haven concert series. This past Spring Sandbox, along with flutist Tim Munro, performed the world premiere of Amy Beth Kirsten’s, They Might be Giants as members of a larger mixed ensemble, HOWL co-directed by Amy Beth Kirsten and Mark DeChiazza.
I am always looking for ways to improve the concert-going experience. As artists, I think we need to find a better way to attract and retain an audience. We need to think about concert programming and how to put pieces together that will be interesting to the audience and help our students learn about musicality and programming. I have always disliked going to percussion concerts and/or recitals and watching percussionists move equipment in between pieces. For this reason, I generally choose to have three parts on my percussion ensemble programs with minimal (or no) movements in between pieces. This takes some planning, but I think it is a more enjoyable show for the audience. (more…)
LAPQ Performs “The Year Before Yesterday” by Shaun Naidoo. This is the title track from their album on Sono Luminus.
Since 2009, the GRAMMY-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet (LAPQ) has forged a distinct identity as a world-class contemporary chamber music ensemble that is dedicated to commissioning and presenting new works for percussion quartet. Originally, members Nick Terry, Matt Cook, Justin DeHart, and Cory Hills joined together to create a classical percussion ensemble that would champion the important contributions of 20th century West Coast composers while collaborating with local artists to continue the tradition of innovation and exploration. Today, the group continues their mission while broadening creative output through recordings, performances, and educational outreach.