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.

There’s No Sound In My Head

There's No Sound In My Head from Lateral Films on Vimeo.

Today’s video is a documentary by Robert Arnold about Mark Applebaum’s Metaphysics of Notation. It is a fascinating video that discusses the development and performance of this graphic notation piece. The documentary features insights by famous composers such as Brian Ferneyhough and Paul Dresher as well as performers. Composer Chris Chafe says “This was a piece of music that was very substantial import… It provided a platform or framework for musical communication. This is the essence of what any score is going to do.”

Watch the video and let us know what you think. Is this music or graphic notation or both? Have you ever played a graphic notation piece? Leave your thoughts and comments below

Percussion Axiom TV: Episode #31, “Third Coast Percussion”

Today we sit down with Third Coast Percussion minutes after their showcase concert at the 2nd annual Round Top Percussion Festival, in Round Top, Texas. We thought it would be good to preview DrumChattr podcast episode #6 which will feature an interview with founding member David Skidmore. Look for that post on Monday!

It seems percussion chamber music ensembles are more successful than ever. What factors do you think are allowing the success of groups like So Percussion and Third Coast? Leave your thoughts below.

For more episodes visit: Percussion Axiom TV
For more about Third Coast check out: Third Coast Percussion

Originally posted on DrumChattr on September 24, 2010 by Thomas Burritt.

Ballet Mecanique at the National Gallery of Art

The Ballet Mecanique by George Antheil is considered on of his most famous (or infamous) works. The original score, written in 1924, calls for 16 player pianos playing four separate parts, for four bass drums, three xylophones, a tam-tam, seven electric bells, a siren, and three different-sized airplane propellors (high wood, low wood, and metal), as well as two human-played pianos. It was later revised in 1953 using a very different ensemble of four pianos, four xylophones, two electric bells, two propellors, timpani, glockenspiel, and assorted percussion.

This video features the premiere of an all-robitic version of the piece for 16 player pianos and percussion orchestra. The performance was made possible with robotic instruments from LEMUR: League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots. For more information on Ballet Mecanique, Antheil.org.

Today’s video is courtesy of guest contributor Carlos Johnson.

Have you seen any performances of robotic percussion or have you ever seen a live performance of Ballet Mecanique? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on September 11, 2010.

Dr. Dave’s Percussion Videos (Episode 008)

This video features a performance Elliott Carter’s new percussion ensemble piece Tintinnabulation (2008), performed by New Jersey Percussion Ensemble (Peter Jarvis, conductor). Elliott Carter wrote this piece at the age of 100!! The Boston Globe says, “Tinnabulation covers an enormous range of sonorities, partly through Carter’s choice of instruments (a Chinese opera gong and five types of nipple gongs are among the mix) but also through his meticulous instructions of where to strike each instrument and what kind of stick to use, be it a mallet, a brush, a birch dowel, or even a knitting needle.”

The performers are (L to R):  Payton MacDonald, Gary Van Dyke, Michael Aberback. John Ferrari, Ned Stroh, April McCloskey

What are some of your favorite Elliott Carter solo or ensemble pieces? Post some links in the comments.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on September 5, 2010 by Dave Gerhart.

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