Strange Beautiful Music 10

New Music Detroit’s 10th annual contemporary music marathon is coming up in late September.  I’ll be playing Steve Reich’s masterwork, Music for 18 Musicians with members of New Music Detroit, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and other distinguished musicians from the region.

There’s a great lineup of artists for the full three day series of concerts:

Read More Here

Roots & Rhizomes

In July 2017, I was a member of the Root & Rhizomes Percussion Residency (Steven Schick & Claire Chase, artistic directors) at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.  The course featured two weeks of rehearsals, presentations, and performances as well as quality time hiking and socializing with some fantastic artists.

L to R: Colin Malloy, NP, Jess Tsang, and Vivian Fung.

In the first week the ensemble pictured above gave the Canadian premiere of Vivian Fung’s wild, complex, and theatrical work, The Voices Inside My Head.  We had a lot of fun preparing and performing the piece.

The same concert featured a complete outdoor performance of John Luther Adams’ evening-length percussion work, Strange and Sacred Noise.  I’ve wanted to play the piece for a long time and was elated to be a part of this performance.

In week number two, the percussion residents and members of the Pianist-Composer Collective worked on the music of Michael Pisaro with Mr. Pisaro and percussionist Greg Stuart.  The focus and aesthetic of the performances were greatly enhanced by their coaching and input.  I performed on fields have ears (4), a 27 minute work featuring a quiet, but powerfully present sonic landscape that slowly transforms over the duration of the work.  The concert of Pisaro’s music closed with ricefall (1), a tactile and profound work in which the performers drop rice at varying intensities on their chosen instruments.

The residency included meetings and coaching with some incredible artists including (in no particular order): Steven Schick, Nicolas Hodges, Aiyun Huang, Vivian Fung, John Luther Adams, Phyllis Chen, Cory Smythe, Craig Taborn, Sarah Hennies, Michael Pisaro, and Greg Stuart.

The residency featured a couple of informal cabaret concerts of new and established repertoire.  For these concerts, I led a performance of music by Jordan Nobles and performed with Zeca Lacerda on a performance of Alone In A Room by Stuart Saunders Smith.

No post about a Banff residency would be complete without a couple of images of the gorgeous surrounding topography.

Mt. Rundle

View of Banff and surrounding area as seen from the summit of Sulphur Mountain.

Thank you to the Banff Centre and its faculty, artists, and staff for an enriching and memorable experience.

nief norf Summer Festival 2017

This last June, I was a Composition Fellow at the 2017 nief norf Summer Festival.  Performers at the festival performed two of my recent compositions.  Percussionists Jon Clancy, Stephen Downing, Alex Richard, and Ike Van De Vate gave the first performance of my in-the-round percussion quartet, Revolution Summer.

For the festival, I composed New Winds for mixed chamber ensemble.  The players sounded great and were lots of fun to work with.  From L to R: Qiuchen Wang (percussion), Brianna Matzke (piano), Andy Bliss (nnSF Artistic Director), Will Yager (bass), Kyle Young (guitar), NP (composer/conductor), Riley Leitch (trombone), and Kays Ishaq (percussion).

I greatly enjoyed working with composers Christopher Adler, Marc Mellits, and Nina C. Young on the New Winds score prior to its performance.

The festival featured two weeks of stellar performances including the final marathon concert that concluded with Reich’s Drumming led by Russell Hartenberger.  For this concert, I performed in works by Philip Glass and Pauline Oliverios.

Kudos once again to the fantastic faculty, composers, performers, and staff that made this yearly festival possible.

“Summons” performance at UNT

Congratulations to John Tafoya, Mark Ford, and the University of North Texas Percussion Ensemble on an incredible performance of my piece Summons for Timpani and Percussion Ensemble on April 6th.  Beautiful sounds, interpretation, and precision.

The UNT Percussion Ensembles had a concert with lots of fantastic new repertoire.  You can view the program here: nightofpercussion.040617

I wrote Summons in 2002 and revised/expanded it for publication in 2008.    The score and parts are available through Bachovich Music Publications.  The work is dedicated to my mentor and friend, Charles Dowd.

Noiseborder Festival 2017

In March 2017, the Noiseborder Ensemble hosted a two week long festival  of events at the University of Windsor including performances by pianist Douglas Finch and the Plumes Ensemble as well as performances by Noiseborder Ensemble and projects by members of the collective.

My main contribution to the festival was the Canadian premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s Memory Palace for percussion and electronics.  It’s a beautiful and tactile work that is around 25 minutes in duration.  One defining features of the piece is that the percussionist builds a majority of the instruments such as tuned slats of wood and tuned metal pipes.

It was great to play with Noiseborder Ensemble again and reprise some of the group’s most enduring/endearing works such as Superstars of Wrestling, (Follow That) Dream (Home), and film/musical works by University of Michigan faculty, Chris McNamara.

New Percussion Quartet: Revolution Summer

I just put the finishing touches on my newest composition, Revolution Summer, which is a percussion quartet performed “in the round” with the players surrounding the audience. It’s about 12 minutes in duration.  Read more below and feel free to peruse the score here:

revolution-summer-score

Program Notes:

Revolution Summer is inspired by Iannis Xenakis’s percussion sextet, Persephassa (1969), that utilizes spatialized placement of the performers to create surround sound projections of Xenakis’ statistical rhythmic and timbral concepts. I performed Persephassa in 2016 and while practicing the music I identified ideas I wanted to explore in Revolution Summer. Persephassa’s use of multiple rhythmic layers, spatial movement of sound, and tremolos on simultaneous instruments yields a number of “technical asymptotes” for the players: there are passages not physically possible to perfect, yet they inspire performers to strive to their best ability to realize Xenakis’ sonic concepts. Revolution Summer is designed to express tactile and sophisticated ideas in a surround concert setting, but also to employ smaller instrumentation and more accessible technical demands so that ensemble aesthetics, that inspired me in Xenakis’ music, can be achieved by a wider range of performers.

The title, Revolution Summer, references the grassroots musical and political movement of the same name that took place during the summer of 1985 in Washington, D.C. While the concept of revolution in this piece involves the circular movement of sound across the performance space, the music and ideas of the artists of the post-hardcore scene and their contemporaries served as formative influences for me and continue to inspire me to this day.

Pacific Lutheran University playing Austerity Measures

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Many thanks to Dr. Miho Takegawa and the PLU Percussion Ensemble for their work on my quartet, Austerity Measures.  The ensemble will perform the piece on November 15, 2016.  I greatly enjoyed meeting the PLU studio during my winter 2016 lecture-recital tour.  I’m honoured that they’re working with my music.

nief norf Summer Festival 2016

In June 2016, I participated in the 2016 nief norf Summer Festival as a Performance Fellow in Knoxville, Tennessee.   The programming, faculty, staff, performers, and composers have continually impressed me over the last several years and I was happy to be a part of it this year.

Over the course of the Festival, I was involved in seven performances:

• A complete performance of Xenakis’ Pleiades at the IJAMS Nature Centre.

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(L to R: NP, Eric Willie, Jon Clancy, Andy Bliss, Colin McCall, Eric Retterer) – These percussionists are amazing and it was an honour finally to play this piece in its entirety with such a great group.

• Pierre Boulez – Derive I

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• Charles Wuorinen – Arabia Felix

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Both the Wuorinen and Boulez  have some unique ensemble and technical challenges.  All of the performers sounded great and were a blast to play with.  I enjoyed getting to dig deeper into the language of these Modernist master composers.

• Premiere of Jeremy Wexler’s Agitato ed etereo

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The festival had 10 Composition Fellows; each had a piece premiered on this concert.  I greatly valued the experience of reading the new piece and working with the composer on edits and new sounds before the performance.  Often when we do composer readings there is very little time to rehearse and both the composer and performer can find themselves disappointed.  Not so at nnSF… the concert was a great success and I look forward to hearing more music by these up and coming composers.

• We closed the nnSF Final Marathon Concert with Xenakis’ Persephassa.

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L to R: Jordan Curcuruto, Kevin Zetina, McKayla Phillips, Abby Fisher, and Stephen Downing.  Again, the players were amazing performers and communicators.  We played this piece in-the-round, surrounding the audience, and with no conductor or click track!

Both Xenakis sextets have been on my bucket list of works to play for many years.  I’m still blown away that I had the opportunity to do BOTH in a two-week period of time.

• Lastly, I did play my own piece, A Very Welcome, at one of the noontime recitals and was pleased by the positive feedback and interest in the composition.

One other highlight for me: several of the nnSF performers were in attendance at some of my lecture recitals, when I toured promoting Points of Departure CD, in February.  It was very cool to re-connect with these players and perform along side them for two weeks of great repertoire.

This post does have to end, but I’ll say this: if you enjoy playing or composing contemporary classical repertoire, you should consider going to nnSF2017.  The faculty and staff are wonderful as are the participants, which are a mix of students, graduate students, and professionals.  The University of Tennessee’s music facility is top notch.  The atmosphere was very friendly and positive, which made the preparation of some of this repertoire so enjoyable.  Check it out here: http://www.niefnorf.org.

 

 

 

University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble Performs Austerity Measures

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Many thanks to the University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble (Jonathan Ovalle, director) for their excellent performance of Austerity Measures on March 30th.

I don’t often get to travel to performances of my music, so it was a treat to make the short drive to Ann Arbor to hear the concert.

The program was excellent; all of the works had some great theatrics, timbres, and complex interactions among the ensemble.  The students played wonderfully.