The Responsibilities of a Professional Principal Percussionist

By Bill Cahn

Bill Cahn has been a member of the NEXUS percussion group since 1971, and was principal percussionist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra from 1968 to 1995. Born in Philadelphia in 1946, Bill has performed with conductors, composers, ensembles, and artists representing diverse musical styles – Chet Atkins, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Chuck Mangione, Mitch Miller, Seiji Ozawa, Steve Reich, Doc Severensen, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, and Paul Winter. He has conducted programs with symphony orchestras, and his compositions for solo percussion, percussion ensemble and percussion with orchestra/band are widely performed. His fourth book, “Creative Music Making,” on freeform improvisation was published by Routledge Books in 2005.

The Responsibilities of a Professional Principal Percussionist

A symphony orchestra, or for that matter any large organization comprised of many different people, is a complex and frequently difficult-to-understand entity. Seventy to one-hundred highly educated professionals – all having unique backgrounds in the study of their particular musical instruments; many having different nationalities of origin; all having differing amounts of experiences as well as differing views on what constitutes “beautiful music” – are brought together for one common purpose, the performance of music. The fact that great music-making can occur at all in this environment of so many differences is truly amazing, and yet it happens regularly in orchestras all over the world. In this respect – the bringing together of many people having wide differences for the purpose of cooperating to make great music – the symphony orchestra is perhaps one of the highest achievements of human civilization and at its best, it is worthy of imitation in every other field of human endeavor. (more…)

How does great “ensemble” music happen?

How does great “ensemble” music making happen? Well, I don’t claim to have the answer completely, but, I suspect a large part of it has to do with “unity”. Unity of purpose, goals, and chemistry of existence.

I think most of us have several memories of great “seasons”, “shows”, or special music experiences. Most of those seem to come from an extended period of time spent with others (on a tour, or series of repeated concerts) who share the same experience as you. This can happen on some sort of tour, or a high school or college percussion ensemble rehearsing many hours for one highly anticipated concert. Why do these experiences tend to be more special than those without that investment of time/commitment by all involved? (more…)

Dr. Dave’s Percussion Videos (Episode 011)

Today’s video features a new cajon trio by percussionist and composer Andrew Beall. Rancho Jubilee was performed at the 2010 PAS NYC “Weekend of Percussion” on February 20th, 2010. The performers are Javier Diaz, Andrew Beall, Wilson Torres (left to right). Check out Andrew Beall for more information about his other compositions and performances.

Do you play cajon? What other percussion trios would you recommend? Leave a comment.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on September 28, 2010 by Dave Gerhart.

Bringing Orchestral Excerpts out of the Practice Room

This evening I will be performing Debussy’s “La Mer” with the Indiana University Symphony Orchestra. Over the course of preparing this work, I have learned a great deal about performing an orchestral standard versus just learning the excerpt in the practice room. I have known and prepared the “La Mer” excerpts many times, but over the last two weeks have had the great fortune to prepare and play it with a live ensemble. To a seasoned professional, these points may seem like common sense, but to a student it was a very interesting and educational experience. (more…)

Jasmin Kolberg performs Libertango

Marimbist Jasmin Kolberg performs Eric Sammut’s Libertango. This piece is based on Libertango by Astor Piazolla. Check out all of the percussion instruments in the background. As the daughter of a violinist and a percussionist, who develops and manufactures percussion instruments, Jasmin Kolberg grew up surrounded by hundreds of varied percussion instruments.

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

What is your favorite Eric Sammut piece? Leave a comment below.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on September 25, 2010 by Dave Gerhart.

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