James W. Doyle



Streaming at www.adams.edu/live

Program Notes by James Doyle, except where attributed.

 About Tonight’s Performance:

Tonight’s performance is a survey of the repertoire studied and performed during the fall semester by the three groups represented. Adams State percussionists were involved in more than 25 performances thus far and will be engaged in touring, solo recitals, guest artist collaborations, recordings, large ensemble, and chamber ensemble performances in the spring semester.

 Moving Air

Moving Air was commissioned in 1989 by the Australian percussion quartet, Synergy Percussion. Composer Nigel Westlake is a long-time collaborator of the group. The work was conceived as a quintet for four percussionists and audio track. The piece utilizes only indefinite pitched percussion, including 15 tom toms, log drums, two sheets of metal (tonight’s performance substitutes Chinese gongs), two bass drums, two congas, cabasa, China cymbal, and temple blocks. This six-minute work represents Westlake’s early compositional period of writing aggressive chamber works. The program note in the score is for the musicians to “Play it Loud!”

I had the opportunity to interview Westlake in Sydney on March 1, 2015 and he considered this piece to be “testosterone-filled” and a dramatic contrast to the film scores he’s most known for today. These film scores include Miss Potter, Babe, Antarctica, and Children of the Revolution. Westlake’s percussion scores include the quartet standards, Omphalo Centric Lecture, Kalabash, The Invisible Men (for quartet and silent film), Moving Air, and Malachite Glass, a work for bass clarinet and percussion quartet. He’s also written a work for solo marimba with digital looping and delay titled Fabian Theory, adapted a work for guitar and looping pedal for marimba titled The Hinchinbrook Riffs, and adapted a guitar duo for guitar and marimba titled Songs from the Forest. In 2006, Westlake composed a concerto for solo percussionist and orchestra titled When the Clock Strikes Me. Based on our interview, Westlake has been approached to write additional works for chamber percussion but current projects, including conducting his requiem mass, Missa Solis and recent film scoring projects have delayed this possibility.

Clapping Music

Steve Reich’s work, Clapping Music was written in 1972 and is for two hand clappers. The work is comprised of a static pattern, reminiscent of an African bell pattern.


The two performers clap the pattern in unison before one performer deviates the pattern by one 8th note. The performer repeats each deviation eight to twelve times to establish the counterpoint. This deviation continues one 8th note at a time until all twelve 8th notes have been shifted and the performers return to unison. Reich, an American-born minimalist composer, has written many prolific works for percussion, including his monumental works Drumming, Sextet, Six Marimbas, Music for Pieces of Wood, and most recently, Mallet Quartet.


Former Third Coast Percussion member Owen Clayton Condon writes music influenced by minimalism, electronica and taiko drumming. His work, Fractalia, written for Third Coast Percussion in 2011, is a sonic celebration of fractals, geometric shapes whose parts are each a reduced-size copy of the whole (derived from the Latin fractus, meaning “broken”). The kaleidoscopic fractured melodies within Fractalia are created by passing a repeated figure through four players in different registers of the marimba. Condon’s acoustic and electronic works, including Fractalia, have been featured as the soundtrack to video and light installations at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwate and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, the famous sculpture (affectionately referred to as The Bean) in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The work is scored for two shared marimbas and eight tom toms.

-derived from www.vicfirth.com

 Kpar Kpo Naah, Lo Ben Doma, and Jong Kplek Kple

Kakraba Lobi originally composed these works for the Ghanaian mallet percussion instrument, the gyil. The New York City-based percussionist Valerie Naranjo transcribed Lobi’s work for solo marimba. Lobi was a virtuoso gyil performer and educator whom accepted Naranjo as his student. Lobi’s acceptance of Naranjo, an American female musician was a testament to her musicianship and dedication to learning. These works are rhythmically complex and require great coordination for the performers. For tonight’s performance, we’ve added minimal percussive accompaniment to each work, turning them into chamber music pieces.

 La Chirimia

La Chirimia is a traditional Son from Guatemala that is usually played on the Chirimia. The translation of the title is “The Shawm.” The Chirimia is a Renaissance double reed instrument that was brought over by the Spanish Missionaries during the Spanish Conquest. The Mayas preserved this instrument since its introduction to the New World. It is a traditional melody that is well known on the Chirimia. 

-Juan Francisco Cristobal

Juan Francisco Cristobal’s leadership and musicianship has been an inspiration to the percussion studio. His hard work, calm demeanor, and willingness to share his knowledge of Mayan music has contributed an invaluable music education to us all. Juan student teaches in the spring and graduates in May 2016. Although Juan will be moving to further his education in graduate school, we hope to raise funds to purchase a Guatemalan marimba for Adams State University and continue our study of this wonderful musical tradition.                              

 Vocal Rhythm Etudes

The Canadian born and Boulder, CO based composer, bassoonist, and pianist Bill Douglas is equally versed in all styles of music. A frequent collaborator with the virtuoso clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, the two are known to include Douglas’ Vocal Rhythm Etudes as contrasting works on their recitals. The pieces are advanced rhythm studies using syllables, known as bols, that explore complex contemporary rhythms influenced by jazz, rock, Indian, African, and Brazilian music. Tonight’s performers are reciting

Etudes no. 1 and 4. These works were learned by the entire ensemble as part of a master class by guest artist, Dr. John Pennington.

 Trap Door

This work is written for the young percussion ensemble and utilizes indefinite pitched percussion. The title implies the use of trap stands that are required for the frequent change of implements and instruments. The piece is part of a collection intended to teach different concepts of percussion playing through performance. Tonight’s performance is conducted by junior percussionist and music education major, Isaiah Pierce.

 Field of the Dead

Sergei Prokofiev composed the film score to the 1938 historical drama, Alexander Nevsky. This monumental film tells the story of the 13th century invasion of Novgorod by the Teuronic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire. The dramatic scoring by Prokofiev was later adapted as a concert cantata, and the haunting melody sung after the battle was adapted for mallet ensemble by Richard Gibson. The text, sung in Russian is as dramatic as the film itself:

            Here lies one who was felled by the sabers wild,

            Here lies one impaled by an arrow shaft.

            From their wounds warm, red blood like the rain was shed

                        on our native soil, on our Russian fields.

            He, who fell for Russia in noble death,

            Shall be blest by my kiss on his dead eyes,

            I shall be a true wife and loving friend.

            I’ll not be wed to a handsome man:

            Earthly charm and beauty fast fade and die,

            I’ll be wed to the man who’s brave.

            Hark ye, warriors brave, lionhearted men! 

Jamaican Farewell

Made famous by Harry Belafonte on his 1957 album, Calypso, Jamaican Farewell is considered a Caribbean classic. The tune has been attributed to many different creators, but is likely derived from a West-Indies folk song. Tonight’s arrangement is by Luc Brust, doctoral percussion candidate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


Pharrell Williams’ 2014 hit, Happy won two Grammy Awards and was nominated for an Academy Award for its use in Despicable Me 2. Dr. Steve Hemphill, director of percussion at Northern Arizona University, arranged this wonderfully catchy tune for steel pan ensemble. The ASU Rocky Mountain Pan Handlers will perform this tune and many others on a concert tour of the four corners region, sponsored by the Music in the Mountains.


About the Adams State University Percussion Program

The Adams State University Percussion program consists of students majoring in percussion with emphases in music education, performance, and music business. Students study concert techniques, drum set, solo marimba, vibraphone, multiple percussion, timpani, marching percussion, hand drumming, Guatemalan Marimba, Brazilian Samba, and Steel Pans from Trinidad and Tobago. The students engage in musical styles from contemporary to classical, popular to world, and jazz to electronic music. Ensembles at Adams State University are open to all students, regardless of major.

Percussion students perform annually for thousands of audience members throughout the United States, including formal concerts, community outreach events, public school programs, and recruiting events. Students are active in the recording arts, WGI, DCI, and have performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. Graduates have gone on to perform and record professionally, teach throughout the U.S. and internationally, and have attended prestigious graduate schools.

The Adams State University Percussion program hosts numerous PAS Day of Percussion events, performs at regional conferences, and welcomes frequent guest artists and performers to campus. New York City-based percussionist, Valerie Dee Naranjo is in-residence each spring as a reoccurring artist. Naranjo, an expert on West-African percussion, song, and dance presents master classes, lessons, and performances for the university as well as lectures on her career, including the Saturday Night Live Band and the Broadway production of The Lion King.

 Percussion Methods

All music education majors take methods classes on strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, voice and percussion. This semester’s class includes students whose instruments are: two clarinets, four flutes, trumpet, french horn, voice, and saxophone. Students study the percussion instruments, history, performance technique, repertoire, and pedagogy for one semester. Tonight’s performance is part of their coursework.

 SLV Community Steel Band

The SLV Community Steel Band is comprised of members of the San Luis Valley with an interest in performing music. The group rehearses one hour a week for ten weeks preceding each concert. Anyone is welcome to join and no experience is necessary. For more information, contact James Doyle at jwdoyle@adams.edu

Special thanks to Mark Schoenecker, Mike Henderson, and the Office for Creative Relations for streaming tonight’s performance.


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