Are We There Yet?

pulitzer_logo

Recently, as I was putting the finishing touches on the University of Texas Percussion Group Fall 2014 Concert I discovered a connection between the composers; all had recently won Pulitzers.

2014 – John Luther Adams
2013 – Caroline Shaw
2012 – Kevin Puts
2011 – Zhou Long
2010 – Jennifer Higdon
2009 – Steve Reich
2008 – David Lang

With the exception of Puts, I had works by JLA, Shaw, Long and Higdon all on the docket. That represents 4 out of 5 of the last Pulitzer Prize Winners in the music category. Most of us are more familiar with the works of Reich and Lang than the previous 5 names on the list, but it was, in the end ridiculously easy to make an entire program of works who’s genesis began with a prize winner. And, Puts for what it’s worth, has several very nice offerings for percussion as well. So, what does this mean?

I believe we are living in an important time for percussionists, especially for those who play chamber music. Is there anything to this observation that suggests percussion instruments have taken a huge stride forward (in the last 7 years) in relevance to contemporary music? While I obviously feel strongly that there is a pattern here perhaps we won’t really get there until a work written entirely for percussion wins the big one.

Are we there yet? Leave your thoughts below the post.

Mobius performs “Thank You (____)”

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VZAttFiKRs

The Mobius Percussion Quartet is an up and coming group based out of Brooklyn/NYC. They have played multiple concerts and been guests with So Percussion. This piece is a new snare drum quartet by Jason Treuting. For more information about the piece, the composer and the group, read the text from the YouTube post below.

As I was deciding what I was going to post today, I came across this video in the suggested videos on YouTube. Being that I know one of the members of Mobius (Yumi Tamashiro is a former student of mine), I wanted check out the new piece and performance. The piece is a combination of performance art and music. In the piece, Jason explore textures, combinations of visuals and extended techniques for the snare drum. It was posted on July 16, 2014 and as of this post, it has been views 5,229 times and there are 84 Thumbs Up and 27 Thumbs Down. What I find interesting about this piece is all of the controversy from the comments on the video. There is something to be said about the high number of views in the short amount of time and it seems obvious that a lot of people have viewed this piece/performance possibly because of the negative reaction it has received. (I am doubtful many people have watched the entire video). Instead of viewing this video as a performance, most people have chosen to let something they don’t like, understand or appreciate become a negative. In this case, controversy has driven traffic. Art is art and everyone has their opinion. Vic Firth has responded to some of the comments on the video. I also hope Mobius takes this opportunity and responds to the comments. They can turn these negative comments into a positive by letting people know about their performances and other videos. That is what social media is all about. If they get someone to purchase a CD or attend a concert, then their efforts paid off. Regardless, please watch the entire video.

Performed by Mobius Percussion
Mika Godbole – Jeremy Smith – Frank Tyl – Yumi Tamashiro

Video by Evan Monroe Chapman

ABOUT THE PIECE:
“Thank you ( )” was written for Tom Sherwood and his 2012 Modern Snare Drum Competition. No drumsticks are used to play the piece. Instead, mallets, rattan shafts, brushes, fingers and coins are used along with the performers voice. The piece was written as a thank you letter of sorts to my favorite snare drummer and each performance is a thank you letter of sorts to the performers favorite snare drummer. It is written in 5 pages that are distinct yet connected.

“Thank you Tom Sherwood for asking me to be a part of this project and for supporting the direction I went with the piece.

Sincerely,
Jason Treuting”

ABOUT THE COMPOSER:
Jason Treuting has performed and recorded in venues as diverse as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Walker Art Center, the Knitting Factory, the Andy Warhol Museum, Zankel Hall, Lincoln Center, DOM (Moscow) and Le National (Montreal). As a member of So Percussion, he has collaborated with artists and composers including Steve Reich, David Lang, John Zorn, Dan Trueman, tabla master Zakir Hussain, the electronic music duo Matmos and choreographer Eliot Feld. In addition to his work with So, Jason performs improvised music with Simpl, a group with laptop artist/composer Cenk Ergun; Alligator Eats Fish with guitarist Grey McMurray; Little Farm, with guitarist/composer Steve Mackey; QQQ (a quartet consisting of hardinger fiddle, viola, guitar and drums); and Big Farm (a foursome led by Rinde Eckert and Steve Mackey).

ABOUT THE PERFORMERS:
The Mobius Percussion Quartet seeks to fuse their interest in fresh sounds with their commitment to high-quality performance and the promotion of new works by emerging composers. The group is composed of David Degge, Mika Godbole, Yumi Tamashiro and Frank Tyl, who formed the ensemble after working together at the first annual Sō Percussion Summer Institute in Princeton, NJ. Based in New York City, the ensemble made their debut at downtown multimedia art cabaret, (Le) Poisson Rouge, performing alongside other notable artists including Sō Percussion, Nexus, Meehan/Perkins Duo and Mantra Percussion. Recent projects include commissioning a multi-movement work from So Percussion’s Jason Treuting that is currently being developed in a workshop setting for release in fall 2014. This past summer, Mobius recorded Australian composer Kate Neal’s dramatic quartet What Hath II with noted videographer Troy Herion. Based on the text transmissions of Morse code, the work integrates visual and corporeal elements that enhance the underlying rhythmic drive. In addition to their regular performance schedule, Mobius has given concerts and masterclasses at numerous universities including the Curtis Institute of Music, York College of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and Rowan University as well as participating in educational outreach programs including the MAP program at Juilliard and others. With several unannounced, versatile projects already in the works, Mobius seeks to springboard evocative ideas with a theatrical inclination to the forefront of their music making.

Fred Frith & Evelyn Glennie – A Little Prayer

This video comes from the documentary “Touch the Sound – A Sound Journey with Evelyn Glennie”, by Thomas Riedelsheimer. Few percussionists have brought our art into the mainstream like Evelyn Glennie. Evelyn has an impressive diversity of accomplishments in her career. Which of these do you think is most important to our art and its continued development? Leave your comments below.
 
 Originally posted on DrumChattr on November 30, 2010 by Dave Gerhart.

“Triptych” by Conspirare and the University of Texas Percussion Group

Happy Thanksgiving from the DrumChattr team! Today’s video features an interesting collaboration between Grammy nominated choir “Conspirare” and the University of Texas Percussion Group. Originally part of a PBS pledge special this concert was recorded and distributed world wide via the Harmoni Mundi label in May of 2009. Rumor has it that it may be re-aired in early December on many national PBS stations. Check your local listings. Click here for more collaborative videos from the DVD.

Triptych originally was scored for small string orchestra and in this version was adapted for percussion. What new or interesting combinations/collaborations have you been involved in? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on November 25, 2010.

Steve Schick performs Psappha

Psappha is a work for multi-percussion by Iannis Xenakis. The work is scored for three groups of three groups of both wood and skins and three groups of metal instruments and the specific instrumentation is left up to the performer. This performance features percussion virtuoso Steve Schick.

Samuel Solomon’s program notes on Psappha can be found here. Has anyone performed this piece? What instruments did you end up using? Leave a comment below.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on November 10, 2010 by Dave Gerhart.

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