Monthly Archive for March, 2009

Thomas Burritt and the UT Percussion Ensemble on KUT Radio – Updated

Thomas Burritt and members of the UT Percussion Ensemble stopped by KUT Radio to play a number of pieces including George Hamilton Green’s “Triplets”, and a solo called “Construction in red and ochre” by Donald Grantham. It has a French name which is spelled differently but you get the idea. Also on the program was John Cage’s “Imaginary Landscape #2” a.k.a. “Fourth Construction”.

The music and MP3’s of “Triplets” are available at the Project Gutenberg site. It is a much older and harder to hear version so I would just check out the modern rendition instead.

At a future MacRimba concert we should program one of these xylophone rags. I think my favorite is still “Xylophonia” but “Triplets” is very nice too.

This was a very good attempt and a layman’s description of the difference between a xylophone and a marimba. It is a hard question to be able to describe succinctly. Xylophones are smaller, generally have less bars, and are tuned differently.

The players are: Kaitlyn Gabos (soloist on Triplets), Reese Foster, Tyler Kling, and Chad Crummel. (freshman class on the rags) Carolyn Trowbridge MM, and Adam Bedell MM (soloist on “bye bye”).

The Cage Percussion Players are:  Thad Anderson, director. Nick Stange, Owen Weaver, Eric Peterson, Carolyn Trowbridge.

This was a great performance in a wonderful sounding recording room (whatever they used in that room get the blueprints – it sounded fantastic). Nice job everyone!

Concordia College 20th Annual Day of Percussion – Cancelled

The Concordia College 20th Annual Day of Percussion will occur Saturday April 4, 2009 at the Memorial Auditorium. Michael Burritt will be a guest clinician on marimba, Jim Rupp on drum set, and Joko Sutrisno on gamelan.

Dr. David Eyler, Director of Percussion Studies, always does a fantastic job at this annual event. Personally, I have been to 4 of them and the caliber of clinicians as well as the “well oiled” logistic team rival any of the other Days of Percussion that are held across the United States. Dr. Eyler has given talks at the PASIC convention on how to host a Day of Percussion and that experience shows at each event.

At last year’s event, I networked with one of the graduating seniors and have negotiated to obtain an arrangement of one of his pieces.

This year will also be a stunning event, given that Michael Burritt (Thomas Burritt’s cousin) is performing. I had the pleasure to see Michael at PASIC in 2000 perform an incredibly difficult piece called “Escape Velocity 1.4” as part of the New Music/Research Day. Mr. Burritt recently took a new position at the prestigious Eastman School of Music as head of the percussion department after his tenure at Northwestern University.

There are a number of opportunities to ask questions at these events so I will need to think about what my question will be this year. I am currently working on “The Offering” so that is a good option an an accessible piece for college students. I can tell you it will not be a question on “Escape Velocity 1.4”, or “Scirroco”, as those pieces are left to the top eschalon of marimbists.

Having at least one annual Day of Percussion in Minnesota is an excellent way to stay current with all aspects of percussion. I often wonder why there aren’t more semi-professionals and professionals attending these events. The turn out is always well attended from the high school and college students. However, I find myself in the minority at these events. Hopefully this blog is one more way to get the word out on what a great opportunity we have right in our own backyard (well a 3 hour drive anyway).

I am now sorry to report that I received word that this year’s Day of Percussion has been cancelled. The extreme flood conditions have shut down most of the city and the college. The day of percussion has been officially cancelled by an email from Dr. Eyler and will not be rescheduled. Here is hoping we have better weather next year.

Percussion Axiom TV #29 – Part 2

As noted in my first post about Percussion Axiom TV #29 we are working on the Gordon Stout Etude #3 measures 15-37. As I worked a few more hours with this middle section I noticed I was playing a few wrong notes by expecting the end of measure 18, 21, 23 and 25 to end on the same octave D. But each measure is different so play attention when playing this part.

I also noticed when I watched the recording of myself that even after my pause around measure 33, I still wasn’t playing the correct notes. I have to remember that while practicing, it is more important to watch the music and learn the notes correctly than trying to play through it at a faster tempo.

My playing is posted below to see a mostly right performance of the longer middle section of the piece. I am excited that there are only about 8 measures of new material left.  Then I will have to really start working on my evil plot to ensure the next marimba piece we learn together is tonal. 🙂 Yes, Dr. Burritt I am talking to you!

Enjoy my “take 6” of the Etude.

Writing for Percussive Arts Society

Blogging, Twitter, Tumblr, and personal web sites are great tools to use in the digital age to communicate your thoughts about marimbas. Sometimes you also just need to use “old school” communication methods like writing an article for the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) chapter newsletter.

For those of you not familiar with PAS, it is the “world’s largest percussion organization and is considered the central source for information and networking for percussionists and drummers of all ages.” I have been a member of this organization since I was in college when I started playing the marimba seriously (1992).

This organization is divided into chapters and the Minnesota chapter hosts a yearly “Day of Percussion” which is a fantastic opportunity to network with other percussionists. Back in March 2002, I wrote an article for the chapter newletter which summarized that year’s Day of Percussion. My article is on page 4.

What makes PAS strong is the contribution of its members. So get out there and write an article for your local chapter!

Colorado Chorale Marimba “Mass of Hope”

The Colorado Chorale, as part of their 39th season, is performing the Misa Tariro Marimba Mass of Hope by Kutandara leader Michael McIntosh. This work is inspired by Zimbabwean community worship ceremonies will be performed on March 22, 2009.

Full of energy and excitement it sounds pretty cool! The movements with marimbas specifically are 1, 2, 3, and 5. My favorite is movement 2 – Gloria. The deep resonant lowest octave is wonderfully recorded and blended with the choir! This also fits my personal definition of being audience accessible.

If you don’t live in the Boulder area, you can listen to their rehearsal MP3’s below.

Movement 1 -Ishe_Todzungaira_Kyrie, Movement 2 – Gloria, Movement 3 – Sanctus Benedictus, Movement 4 – Agnus Dei, Movement 5 – Tariro.

If anyone knows more about this piece please comment below!

Percussion Axiom #29

The recent Percussion Axiom TV episode 29 is available on YouTube as well as Thomas Burritt’s web site. In the recent episode he continues providing insight and instruction to Gordon Stout’s Etude #3 from book 1. Take 10 minutes to listen on the video below.

This episode is focused on the middle section of the piece which is filled with many scalar passages with double vertical octaves in each hand. There is also just a hint of melody although I am not sure if a 20th century octatonic piece can have a melody. Measure 15 has a really nice little pattern that initially was hard to understand, but once I understood what was happening in each hand, it grooves nicely.

I have posted my first attempt at this passage after about 2 hours of practicing on YouTube and also at the bottom of this post.