James W. Doyle

Program Notes for the Adams State Unversity Spring 2016 Percussion Extravaganza


Program Notes by James Doyle

Watch the live stream here! 

Deep and Distant Thunder

Having spent the first 22 years of my life living in the Midwest, springtime meant eerie skies, vicious thunderstorms, and taking shelter at the sound of tornado sirens. When I first heard the Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer John Luther Adams’ work, Deep and Distant Thunder, I was immediately transported to my youth. Just one movement from Three Drum Quartets From Earth and the Great Weather, Adams wrote Deep and Distant Thunder as a representation of the “elemental power and natural forces in the Arctic,” and the “ecstatic power of Iñupiat Eskimo drumming and dancing.”


Adams State University Art Professor Dana Provence invited me to collaborate by selecting and performing music for his Performance Bronze Pour and Powder Drawings earlier this spring. While considering the primal quality of molten bronze and burning gunpowder, the music of John Luther Adams came to mind. My students performed this work, as well as …solitary and time-breaking waves from Adams’ collection of works titled, Strange and Sacred Noise.


For tonight’s performance, I chose to set our performance of Deep and Distant Thunder to time-lapse photography and video captured by storm-chaser and Houston-based musician, “Pecos Hank.” His videography exhibits the terrifying beauty of Midwestern spring storms while the drums emulate the visceral cacophony of nature’s violent wrath. In order to provide a relatively antiphonal soundscape, each performer is dispersed throughout the anterior of the auditorium, providing sonic space for this bombastic work.



Perhaps the most unique and difficult to pronounce title for a composition, Marco Schirripa wrote this short piece for the unusual combination of solo snare drum and marimba ostinato. The snare drum soloist must possess complex rudimental drumming abilities with the finesse to balance with the more mellow, rosewood resonance of the marimba.


Escape: Sextet for Triangles

New York-based percussionist, composer, and collaborator Drew Worden wrote Escape: Sextet for Triangles for a concert combining early avant-garde film with live percussion accompaniment. Worden paired his work, for six unclipped triangles, to Mary Ellen Bute’s 1938 film, Synchromy No. 4. Filmmaker and producer Cecil Starr explains Bute’s film portrays “a story in abstraction of an orange/red triangle imprisoned behind a grid of vertical and horizontal lines under a sky-blue expanse, perhaps representing freedom.”


Bute set Synchromy No. 4 to the Toccata from J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, an organ work written approximately 200 years prior to the creation of her film. I first became aware of Worden’s composition while researching original chamber percussion works for silent or, in this case, silenced film in live performance. While percussionists have improvised or adapted scores for film accompaniment, the pairing of silent/silenced film and original chamber percussion compositions has a modest body of repertoire. The multi-media aspect of film with live musical accompaniment is as old as film itself, yet original composed scores, particularly for chamber percussion, number in the single digits.


Rancho Jubilee

The cajon, an instrument with numerous claims of ancestry, is little more than a resonant box and has become the “acoustic guitar” of the gigging percussionist. The commercialization and development of this simple instrument has propagated over the past fifteen years and provides percussionists with an alternative to a complete drum set sound. With less volume, floor print, and providing a built-in seat, percussionists have developed new techniques and adapted others to this wildly popular portable instrument. The cajon has grown in value both musically and commercially as builders have continued to advance the instrument in design, construction, and expressive possibilities. Rancho Jubilee, written as a trio, demonstrates the available timbre, dynamic range, and virtuosity of the trained percussionist


The Balloonatic

The advent of motion pictures and the peak of ragtime took place concurrently at the turn of the 20th century. It would not have been uncommon for American cinemagoers to hear pianists performing the latest ragtime hits of the era to accompany the onscreen action.


Xylophone virtuoso, composer, and recording artist George Hamilton Green (1883-1970) paved the way for percussion soloists since the early 1900s when he would perform for crowds numbering in the tens of thousands. His compositions, orchestrated for marimba band by members of the percussion group NEXUS, have become common performance ensemble standards.


Dr. Steve Hemphill, Director of Percussion at Northern Arizona University, took Buster Keaton’s 1923 short comedy and set George Hamilton Green’s Charleston Capers, Valse Brillante, Cross Corners, Ragtime Robin, and Triplets, Joe Green’s Xylophonia, and Frank Silver and Irving Cohn’s Yes! We Have No Bananas to accompany the film.


For tonight’s performance, we have three performers providing the sound effects, or “Foley” for the film, and seven other members rotating between four marimba parts, drum set, and as xylophone soloist.


Steel Pan Banding 101 Part 1



A blog post should never start with a disclaimer, yet here I go:


I do not profess to be a leading steel pan scholar, pedagogue, expert, or pan performing artist. I haven’t been to Panorama (yet!), will never publish a definitive scholarly article on the instrument, its history, or claim any anthropological or ethnomusicological expertise beyond what I’ve read and gained through experience over the past decade. There are many highly qualified experts I consider as primary sources of information. I am not one.


With that said, steel pan has made a dramatic impact on my percussion pedagogical philosophy, my studio at Adams State University, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I’m often asked how and why pan—how do you start a program and why it’s valuable. I’ll answer these two questions right here in successive blog posts.



Let’s start with the How:


Funding…this part can be tricky. I was very fortunate. I had a donor who believed in the game plan for my studio when I first started at Adams State University (more on the game plan later) and made a series of donations to the Foundation to fund the progressive purchase of pans, tuning, and later, a samba bateria. Again, I was lucky. People often ask me about grants and yes, they’re out there if you have a game plan that fits the mission of a particular granting organization (again, more on this later). Unfortunately, I don’t know of one specific place to look, and if I did, I’m likely writing the grant for one of my own projects…because…yes...I’m selfish and have more plans than money. However, look around, ask around, and think creatively.


If you’re at a university, you likely have an office that writes grants. They won’t do it for you, and nor should they, but stay in touch with them as they live in that world and may see grant opportunities pertaining to you. If you’re in a public school, network with parents and administrators to find grant specialists. Get involved in a local non-profit arts organization. I learned an immense amount about grant writing by working with a highly successful writer affiliated with my local live music association. She taught me a few simple rules that have paid dividends:


1. Read what they want.

2. Answer specifically what they want.

3. Demonstrate value and return on the investment.

4. Follow through.


Simple. Save everything you write and know you won’t always be successful. Stay on top of the industry phrases and buzzwords for the granting organizations and read their mission statements to ensure you can align your project with their goals. 


When it came time for me to do the “how” part, I asked a lot of questions of pan people in similar academic and financial situations as my own. Then I bought this book and you should, too:

The Steel Band Game Plan by Chris Tanner.


You can basically stop reading this blog post now. Buy the book. Read the book.



If you’re still reading, this is what I did.


1. I decided on Gill’s Pan Shop in Trinidad. 

The price worked for me, they had pans ready to ship, and the instruments are made in the birthplace of pan, employing locals that deserve to make money off of their homeland’s national creation. There are wonderful domestic builders here in the U.S., but philosophically, this settled well with me.


2. I was advised to get chrome lead and double tenors and powder coated lower pans. Also, get the cases.


3. The first order was for three lead pans, two pairs of double tenors, a pair of guitars, and a set of six basses. If I had to do it over, I would have waited on the basses. At the time, there weren’t a lot of electric bass players hanging around the university that I knew of so I got the bass pans.


4. My second purchase was for two more leads, one more pair of double tenors, and a set of cellos. I’m probably done purchasing pans and have the following instrumentation:

5 leads

3 pairs of doubles

1 pair of guitars and a set of cellos

1 set of six basses


There are plenty of other options (read the book, ask around, and check out other bands live or on YouTube) but this is what I did. When I can, I double the basses with electric bass. When traveling, I often times leave the six basses behind and just use electric bass. I’ll also add marimba and vibraphone if I have more players than pans. 


There's just one catch:


Pans need to be tuned. They'll likely need to be tuned more regularly than you can find money. You’ll need to hire a tuner—just like a piano tuner, only they are harder to come by. Here are some approaches to consider:


1. Network with pan people around your region. Chances are, a pan tuner will have to travel to you from somewhere distant. That’s certainly the case where I am. It seems planning for $100 per pan is a rate to start with and doesn’t include travel. If you partner with some other pan people, you may not have to worry about travel expenses if the tuner can squeeze you in on his or her trip. I had a pan tuner in this situation ask me what my budget was and he was willing to spend as much time as he could budget based on the money I had available.


2. There are many great tuners in the U.S. and if you buy your pans domestically, you may want to use that particular tuner. I’ve used Chris Wabich. He’s ridiculously busy as a performing musician in Los Angeles, teaches at the University of Arizona, and seems to be constantly traveling. It’s for this reason I try and get Chris to come out. Not only is he a great pan player and tuner, he’s a phenomenally good drum set player, percussionist, and teacher. In addition to pan tuning, he’s worked with my students and performed for us while being one of the most easy-going musicians I’ve ever met.


3. Get in touch with pan tuners around the country and ask them to keep in touch if they’ll be in your region. They will. Keep “money in the bank” for when these opportunities arise. It’s tempting to buy more stuff with your funds but tuning is so valuable. As a matter of fact, my pans are in desperate need of tuning right now…!!


What to play?:

Music is the easy part. Pan ensembles are relatively simple to arrange for. The pan community is very warm, connected, and willing to share. There are great publishers online where you can get everything from beginning arrangements to extremely difficult originals. You can use lead sheets to make your own arrangements on the fly, teach by rote, develop a systematic procedure for learning pan, or do any combination of the above. This all ties into your philosophy and game plan. 




1. Decide on your game plan (the next blog post!).


2. Make a budget.


3. Tell everyone about your plan and ask questions of pan people, grant people, and potential partnering organizations.


4. Get a few pans—as many as you can afford. Once people hear pans, they are sold and will want to be a part of your group and want to listen.


5. There’s no “one way” to start a pan group. Buy Chris Tanner’s book. 


6. It’s worth it. You’ll be happy. The members of the band will be happy. The audience will be happy. We need more of this in the world.


Stay tuned for what you can do with a steel pan group that is far reaching, inclusive, musically and educationally rewarding, and so much fun. Part 2 will address what I've been able accomplish with a steel pan as one facet of my program. 


Thanksgiving Traditions: Turkey, TV, and Technique


If you’re like most musicians, down time comes with mixed emotions. The battle waging in my head is usually:

-I should relax

-I should practice

Will James, Principal Percussionist with the Saint Louis Symphony wrote eloquently about this very topic on his blog earlier in the year (Will’s blog is a must follow). If you find yourself experiencing one of the six reasons to do the "unthinkable" but are still struggling with the guilt of staying out of the practice room, consider this option.


A few years ago, I struck a deal with my Self 1* allowing for down time after long runs of concerts, teaching, recitals, clinics, and travel. Instead of jumping into the next project or working up fresh repertoire, the compromise is to revisit the basics. For Thanksgiving, the tradition has become a time-tested classic, George Lawrence Stone’s Stick Control

Stick Control


Yes. The entire book. From cover to cover. Some of the most relevantly-wise pedagogical words you’ll ever need to know are in the Preface and section, “How to Practise Stick Control.” The book is 80 years old and still on everyone’s list. After playing through the book, you’ll likely find sections to revisit throughout the rest of the year which was the original intention—a conditioner and daily workout to keep you in shape.


Thanksgiving is a 4-5 day weekend. Playing through the book in its entirety is worth every minute. Take different tempos, different dynamics, and vary the repetitions beyond the “repeat each exercise 20 times” instruction Mr. Stone suggested.


Play along to your favorite music or Pandora station. Play with a metronome. Play without. 


Here’s the kicker:

If you get bored...watch TV. Seriously… Netflix, football, Law and Order marathons. To be clear, this unimaginable idea isn’t original. In Leigh Howard Stevens’ interview of Bob Becker for the August 1996 issue of Percussive Notes, Becker shared that long tabla technique practice sessions were made manageable by watching television.


So there you have it from a highly credible source.


If you left your copy at school or loaned it to a student, download a digital copy for your Kindle app. No excuses. It’s always with you.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember, “practise at all tempos, stopping at the slightest feeling of tension.” 



*from Tim Gallwey's Inner Game books/concepts. More on this in the future.

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.


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.


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:



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.



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