Day 3 of Marimba 2010 didn’t start with traffic problems as I headed down to the Ted Mann Concert Hall. What did delay me was a great conversation with Dr. Nathan Daughtrey from the Classical Marimba League. We discussed various marimba topics from composition to marimba brands. It is conversations like those that are also a great part of marimba gatherings like this. We first met when the Classical Marimba League concerts came to the University of Minnesota last year.
8am – “Marimba Roots Marimbas from Zimbabwe and Guatemala” was a set of presentations from Carey Sirianni and Lester Homero Godinez Orantes. Using slides as well as musical examples, he took the audience through the history of the marimba from both of these cultures perspectives. My marimba knowledge comes more from the US and Japan so this was all new information for me and further showed one of the festival’s goals of showing the world perspective on the marimba.
9am – “Classical Marimba League Competition Winners” concert featured:
3rd place – Setsuko Kutsuno performing Druckman’s “Reflections on the Nature of Water” and “The Source” by Toshi Ichiyanagi (instead of the originally programed “Velocities” by Schwantner).
2nd place – Mei-Shyuan Chiu performing Reynolds “Islands from Archipelado II. Autumn Island”.
1st place – Sabrina Suk Wai Ma performing Lansky’s “3 Moves for Marimba – Hop (2)” and Sueyoshi’s “Mirage pour Marimba” and Sejourne’s “Nancy”.
Seeing a piece like “Nancy” played by a professional marimbist was a real treat. This piece is easier compared with most of the literature performed at the festival. It served as a reminder that it doesn’t have to be hard to be beautiful and touching. All of the performers clearly showed why they were the competition winners.
10am – “Duos” was the aptly named title of this session. But before that, there was a change in the program as Eric Sammut performed now instead of at the 11am session. The piece he performed was his commission called “Sugaria (for marimba, strings three percussionists and amplified bass)”. It was a concerto in 3 movements that was dedicated to his daughter Nina. Eric Sammut doesn’t need my silly blog to say he is a virtuoso but I will anyway. He is a virtuoso.
Reich’s “Nagoya Marimbas” and Rogers “Once Removed” were performed by the Mehan/Perkins Duo. Nanae Mimura and Nancy Zeltsman performed “We Too” which is the Mimura’s arrangement of the second movement of Levitan’s Marimba Quartet.
Momoko Kamiya and Eriko Daimo performed “Atom Hearts Club Duo Op. 70a” a work in 4 movements originally for guitars by Takashi Yoshimatsu. Finally Steven Whibley’s “Espiritu Libre” was performed by Maraca2 and the Minnesota State University Moorhead Percussion Ensemble. This piece flowed brilliantly from their 4 hands. It was also great to see another local ensemble joining in the festival. Although a 3-4 hour drive might not be considered by some to be local.
11am – “European Connections” featured Brontons “Sonatina Aquiferous Op. 101” and Turina’s “Saeta” performed by Carolina Alcaraz. Pedro Carneiro then performed Psathas’ “One Study One Summary” and “Liquid Bars” which were both for marimba and electronics.
Lunch at Jimmy Johns and back for more.
1pm – “Marimba and … (Part I)” featured marimba and tape compositions. Carolina Alcaraz performed Reina’s “Mekaze conun enana por jartame de rei (Bulerias Serafinas). Next was Casey Cangelosi’s “Walking Left Handed” which is about a woman who describes the effects of LSD on her. She insists that even though she is color blind she can see color when using. Reading those program notes before the piece started was interesting enough until all of the lights went out and candles were lit. Now we are talking! Since the goal was to put your perception in flux during this piece – I can agree that was accomplished. If you are looking for an interesting college recital piece, give this one a serious look.
“Fertility Rites” by Beverley Johnston’s husband Christos Hatzis was next. I have this piece on her CD but it is best seen live. Johnston had to deal with a mallet head flying off of the handle but continued without even being phased. Whibley’s “Blue Motion” was very notey and fast paced!
2pm – “Marimba in Japan” Momoko Kamiya returns to perform Muramatsu’s “Spirit” and Kitakata’s “Hato Oto”. Spirit is not like “Blossoms in the Sunlight” and “Land” but does have the same audience pleasing movie score feeling of Muramatsu’s music. This is definitely another one to add to the repertoire list! “Hato Oto” was performed last year at the Classical Marimba League contest and I was thrilled to hear it again. This piece has some nice jazzy elements and is another crowd-pleaser. The US premiere of “Three Fragments of Piya” by Nishimura was next performed by Pedro Carneiro. After that was Yoshioka’s “Divertimento for three marimbas” performed by Takayoshi Yoshioka and the Minimums. This piece is a possibility for the MacRimba ensemble that I play in. It reminded me at times of a merry-go-round. The final piece was Yoshioka’s “Three Dances” which added multi-percussion in addition to the marimba.
3pm – “World Premieres” started with Libby Larsen’s “Like Blind Man Tapping in the Dark (for marimba four-hands)” performed by Svet Stoyanov and William Moersch. Paul Smadbeck was next performing his own “Fernando’s Waltz”. This piece was commissioned for this festival and was named after the artistic director and host Fernando Meza. More similar to “Virginia Tate” than “Rhythm Song” this piece will be a recital favorite as soon as it is published. “Dreaming of the Red Chamber” by Chien-Hui Hung was a 6-mallet piece performed by Pei-Ching Wu. Kai Stensgaard performed his “Hexagram”. This is more of an advanced piece for those 6-mallet folks out there. It was great to have so many premieres one after another.
4pm – “Transcriptions” started with Katarzyna Mycka performing Mozart’s “Adagio for Glass Harmonica” followed by “Danse des Chevaliers from Romeo and Juliet”. Ji Hye Jung then performed Keith Jarrett’s “Koln Concert (Part IIc).
And then the world stopped for a moment.
Pius Cheung performed J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations Aria”. Everyone stop what they are doing now and buy this CD from Steve Weiss Music. No seriously. This performance received a standing ovation! But wait there is more. Eriko Daimo joined him to perform J. S. Bach’s “Keyboard Concerto in d minor”. Eriko Daimo has a playful smile that says “I know something you don’t know”.
Nanae Mimura completed this session with Pietro Mascagni’s “Intermezzo” from Cavalleria Rusticana (with introduction of Holst’s Jupiter). She then played Debussy’s “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum” and a jazzy arrangement of Richard Rodger’s “My Favorite Things”.
It is hard to image there were evening concerts and one more entire day of concerts but there was. More information on those concerts coming next.