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Adams State Fall 2015 Percussion Extravaganza Program Notes

 

 

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.

Fractalia

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.

Happy

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.

                       

PASIC 2015 Wrap Up

 

PASIC15 is now a thing of the past and the fall semester is quickly coming to a close. As usual, the convention serves as equal parts inspiration, social reunions, professional networking, and the acquisition of new music and other percussion items that'll fit in a suitcase.

This year required an extra day and a half of time away as the Animas Percussion Quartet--the percussion section of the Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra was selected to perform for Focus Day. With the exception of one month in the summer, the four of us live in different states and although we met in Flagstaff at Northern Arizona University for a few days in October, the day before the convention required rehearsal time. 

We performed the 1974 composition, "Four Movements for Percussion Quartet" by Michael Udow-- a deceptively difficult work utilizing maracas, guiros, graduated sandpaper blocks, hand claps, and a wine bottle. The piece emulates a string quartet and gesture and motion is a key component.

This was also my first year presenting a clinic at PASIC. My session was titled, "Free-Rebounding, the Relaxed Full Stroke" and was a synthesis of the pedagogy study I've undertaken with Gary Cook, Dean Gronemeier, and Tim Jones. Below is a pdf of the handout. A special thanks to Beetle Percussion, Black Swamp, Vic Firth, Yamaha, and Row-Loff for the support and allowing me to show up to the clinic with nothing more than a bag of tennis and racquet balls. 

 

As is typical, I only make it to a fraction of the sessions on my radar. However, one of the biggest highlights included hearing Tom Burritt's recital which was masterfully performed. The flow of the concert was terrific and his artistry is tremendous. The other major standout was hearing Nexus with Iranian vocalist Sepideh Raissadat. Every time I hear Nexus, I'm amazed and inspired beyond belief. There's no question these musicians-not just percussionists but musicians-are amongst the best in the world.

And finally, it was great to see the folks from Japan Percussion Center in the exhibitor hall. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time (and Yen) at their establishment this past summer in Tokyo and was glad to buy more of the marimba music they brought to San Antonio. They are generous, professional, and incredibly kind. I cannot wait for my next visit to Japan and will definitely be visiting again.

 Here's the link to my clinic handout:

Doyle_PASIC_Handout.pdf 

 

PASIC 2015 Promo

 

Here's a quick and simple promo for a couple of PASIC activities this year. I'm performing with the Animas Percussion Quartet on Thursday, November 12th at 9am in Ballroom C2 and giving a Snare Drum FUNdamentals clinic on Friday, November 13th at 11am in room 214. 

Summer 2015 Concludes and a PASIC Clinic and Performance in November

 

As I sit and write this posting at Doc's Eat and Drink at 10,200' in Leadville, CO, it's a pleasure to look back on a great summer season of concerts, clinics, and travel. I was fortunate to spend three weeks performing, teaching and forging relationships and collaborations in Japan. Immediately upon returning, I performed for three weeks with the Music in the Mountains (MITM) Festival Orchestra in Durango, CO. This season also included teaching and performing as faculty with the MITM Conservatory. The faculty and students, led by director Matt Albert, were quite impressive! As always, the orchestra was a pleasure to perform with, and our conductors Guillermo Figueroa, Karina Canellakis, Richard Kaufman, and Carl Topilow were terrific.

Before departing for Japan, I was notified of two proposal acceptances for this year's Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in San Antonio, TX. I will present a clinic titled, "Free Rebounding: The Relaxed Full Stroke" focusing on reducing/measuring tension levels in the stroke, channeling "energy" elsewhere in the body, bringing a heightened awareness to Visual, Aural, and Kinesthetic learning (VAK), and effective use of cloning. 

Additionally, the Animas Percussion Quartet will perform Michael Udow's work, "Four Movements for Percussion Quartet" as part of Focus Day. The quartet, comprised of Steven Hemphill (Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona) Jonathan Latta (University of the Pacific Conservatory, Stockton, California) John Pennington (Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota), and I (also the percussion section for MITM) rehearsed throughout the MITM Festival and look forward to November!

The schedule is filling up for fall and more is on the way. Stay tuned!

 

 

Japan Concerts and Clinics

 

With summer officially in full swing, I'm excited to be preparing for a residency at Gunma University in Maebashi-City, Japan this month, to include recitals, master classes, pedagogy classes, and my own study of traditional Japanese music. Prior to my stay at Gunma University, I'm excited to study taiko in Kyoto. I was fortunate to study at San Jose Taiko years ago when I lived in the Bay Area and have recently begun researching the building of taiko drums for Adams State University. 

In early July, I'll have the wonderful opportunity to perform the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto with clarinetist Chiho Sugo and pianist Kaoru Kashiwagi as part of a chamber concert in Tokyo at Suginami Kokaido Hall, home to the Japan Philharmonic. It has been 16-17 years since I last had the chance to perform with Chiho and am honored for the invitation. 

Here's a link to the venue website bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Academic Year 2014-15 Wrap Up

 

Grades are submitted and the 2014-15 academic year has come to a close. While my document remains for my DMA at UNLV, the summer is set to be quite exciting after a busy school year.

My studio at Adams State University achieved much success with over 50 performances, exciting concerts, tours of Colorado and Las Vegas, hosts to numerous guest artists, and students participating in WGI indoor groups. My two graduating seniors are off to great things--one teaching and performing in Brazil and the other to The Hartt School of Music to begin master's degree studies. We also concluded the semester with the start to a recording project to be completed next academic year

This past fall semester, I was delighted to join the percussion faculty at UNLV and as a result made countless commutes to Las Vegas to teach undergraduate lessons and participate in repertoire class. I've learned an incredible amount about percussion, pedagogy, and the music business as a result of my time with Tim Jones, Dean Gronemeier, Gary Cook, and Kurt Rasmussen.

Gary Cook, Tim Jones, Dean Gronemeier and I

Another personal highlight was the opportunity to travel back to Australia to interview composer Nigel Westlake in Sydney and conduct research for my DMA document at Australia's National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra. I was also able to spend time with Gary France and check out his new percussion school- The Groove Warehouse. In addition to a wonderful time with Nigel and Gary, it's such a pleasure to spend time in Australia as the beaches are truly gorgeous, the people amazing, and the atmosphere perfect. I cannot wait to return.

Nigel Westlake and I

 

In addition to discussing Nigel's percussion writing, I was pleased to become familiar with two of his newer and large works that I'd highly recommend:

Compassion is a collection of songs by Nigel Westlake and Indie artist, Lior. The works are quite beautiful and worth purchasing immediately.

Missa Solis: Requiem for Eli is a spectacular composition written in memory of Nigel's late son, Eli. Also worth purchasing and appreciating.

Finally, I'll be using this medium as my blog posts and transferring over relevant posts from my old blog site. Watch for updates.

 

 

Upcoming Appearances

  • September 24, 2017
    Various Venues in Tokyo, Maebashi, and Gunma University
     
  • September 25, 2017
    Various Venues in Tokyo, Maebashi, and Gunma University
     
  • September 26, 2017
    Various Venues in Tokyo, Maebashi, and Gunma University
     
  • September 27, 2017
    Various Venues in Tokyo, Maebashi, and Gunma University
     
  • September 28, 2017
    Various Venues in Tokyo, Maebashi, and Gunma University
     

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