Marimba 2010 – Day 3 Performances

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.

2010 Classical Marimba League Artist Competition deadline today

The 2010 Classical Marimba League Artist Competition deadline is today Monday February 1, 2010. Submit your applications with a postmark no later than today to participate in this year’s competition.

The winner of the competition will perform at the University of Minnesota as part of the Marimba 2010 International Festival and Conference. I will be in the audience this year to listen to the winner. I am not sure if that is motivation or not for submitting an application but I sure am looking forward to it!

Classical Marimba League announces 2010 International Marimba Artists Competition

The Classical Marimba League has announced their 2010 International Marimba Artists Competition. The competition will feature the set piece “Short Stories mvmt 2” by Bruce Broughton. This piece requires marimba and piano accompaniment. It has multiple movements, but only movement 2 is required. Participants should also prepare 2-3 other marimba solos that “display different musical styles” and “demonstrate your strongest musical attributes”.

The application is available online as well as the music for the set piece which you can buy at Steve Weiss Music. Submissions need to be made on DVD (not just audio CD) and need to include the $40 application fee. The deadline for submission is February 1, 2010. If you would like to listen to the movements of Short Stories, C. Alan Publications has samples on their web site.

I am thrilled that the winner’s of this competition will perform at the University of Minnesota in a showcase concert. It was a real treat to see this last year and I will definitely make the trip in April 2010.

Classical Marimba League – Photos and Program Notes

In this final post about the Classical Marimba League performances at the University of Minnesota, I wanted to share some photos as well as the program notes.

The U of M events website publishes PDF versions of all of there events (what an excellent idea). Program notes from the Marimba Composition Contest Concert and the Marimba Competition Winners Concert are available.

I have made a photo gallery with the pictures from the event.

Finally, I met Brian Duffy of Penumbra Percussion Duo. I went to school at Drake University with Brian Duffy and knew that he now lived in the area. It has been a number of years since we bumped into each other but it was no surprise he was at this marimba event.

Chat with Nathan Daughtrey

I had a chance to have a chat with Nathan Daughtrey, Director of Operations of the Classical Marimba League, when here was here in Minnesota. This wasn’t a formal interview but I thought I would share the marimba related items we talked about.

The Classical Marimba League started about 3 years ago and was initially led by Mr. Dunnington. The marimba competition accepted CD submissions of the marimba performances this year. In future years, Nathan would like to require video submissions.

The three winners all flew into Minnesota to perform (one from Taiwan, the other two are persuing degrees here in the US). In the future Nathan would like to tie the competition concert into other events possibly including other Days of Percussion or PASIC.

Nathan has composed many works for percussion, I asked him about “The Yuletide Marimbist” which is a book of Christmas pieces arranged for marimba. A CD is also available for purchase. Nathan stated that he started these pieces as a intermediate level but the compositions ended up being a bit more advanced than that when they were finished.

I also asked Nathan about the Vic Firth Concert Podcast since that is one of my favorite marimba destinations on the Internet. He said the he is thrilled to contribute to that project and that this is a great way to provide free access to percussion literature performed at a high level instead of just a video camera of someone in their practice room. I couldn’t agree more and hope that this website continues to deliver high quality videos of percussion performances.

I realized I was taking pictures as part of the event but forgot to take one with Nathan. If you are interested, head over to Facebook and become a fan of the Classical Marimba League to see some photos.

Classical Marimba League at The University of Minnesota – Marimba Competition Winners Concert

The Classical Marimba League Marimba Competition Winners Concert was held at the University of Minnesota at Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall on April 2nd at 7:30pm. The Classical Marimba League has setup a Facebook page with much clearer photos of the event so please go “become a fan” on Facebook of this great new organization.

The concert started with an introduction by Fernando Meza and  Nathan Daughtrey talking about what we were going to hear this evening. The three performers were the winners of the marimba competition part of the CML and would each be playing the pieces they submitted for their jury.

First to perform was third place winner Yun-Ju Chou. She graduated from the National Taiwan Normal University in 2007 studying under Professor Yiu-Kwong Chung. She has won many awards and marimba competitions in Taipei. She started with Yiu-Kwong Chung’s “Concerto for Marimba and Wind Ensemble (mvmt. II Cadenza/Fuga)”. This piece was a straightforward Fugue with a light pretty melody. She played it with a light touch and nice dynamic contrast. After the piece was over there was a small uncomfortable moment where the audience started to applaud but then stopped because they weren’t sure this piece was complete. I will admit to the same confusion because I didn’t know the piece. This then meant that there was no applause for her pieces until all 3 were complete. I want to ensure Ms. Chou that it was not because the audience did not like the first two pieces. The second piece was Peter Klatzow’s “Dances of Earth and Fire”. Wow. This is one of the tour de force marimba standards that I have heard about many times but have never seen in person. When it is played at this level it will certainly win a marimba competition or two! The arpeggiated passages take you all over the instrument and it just seems endless in how the notes and lunges just keep coming. The notes that I wrote while watching this was “this piece is insane”. The final piece was Keiko Abe’s Marimba d’Amore. This piece is (ironically) on the Vic Firth concert podcast page by none other than CML’s own Nathan Daughtrey. What was impressive about this performance was how relaxed her hands were while playing such a powerful piece. Especially at the end you felt the power without seeing the effort needed to generate that power. For all of the students in the audience, I hope this point wasn’t lost.

Second to perform was second place winner Hiromi Kamiya. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Marimba Performance from Aichi Prefectural University where she studied unter Momoko Kamiya. She has won awards from first prize to semi-finalist in many marimba competitions and she is currently persuing a Graduate Artist Certificate from the Univeristy of North Texas with Mark Ford. First up, was Andrew Thomas’ Merlin. Another standard in the advanced marimba literature, this piece can be found on many marimba CDs including Nancy Zeltsman, Greg Giannascoli and William Moersch (and probably a lot more). This is another of the standard pieces that I have listened to many times but never seen played in person. This was truly the highlight of the evening. This piece truly invokes visions of King Arthur during the subtle rolling sections of movement 1. They rise and fall into dramatic booming passages which evoke an almost trumpet like summoning of the guards. Movement 2 rips into faster passages that compliment the rolling passages of movement 1. I was litteraly mesmerized by the performance, so much so that when I heard a single stick click I wrote down “she is actually human”. Bravo! The second piece was the USA premiere of Hirotake Kitakata’s “HATO-OTO”. I love being able to be a part of history and listening to a premiere and this was no exception. The piece started with a left hand double vertical pattern and a delicate melody in the right hand. Then without warning and with a surprise like a home run in baseball, the piece turns into a jazzy-crowd pleaser! Are you kidding – Jazz? Well we have a new advanced piece in the literature that will sure to make the rounds – this one is a keeper.

Third to perform was the first place winner Yi-Chia Chen. She received her Bachelor’s in Music Education from the National University of Tainan, Taiwan in 2006 and a Master’s Degree in Percussion Performance from Arizona State University in 2008. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in percussion performance with Dr. J.B. Smith and Mark Sunkett. She was the first prize winner of the 2007 PASIC Solo Marimba Competition. She began with Eric Sammut’s “Cameleon”. Sammut is probably the most famous four his “Four Rotations” but “Cameleon” is also frequently played. The ease at which Yi-Chia, moved across the bars, with a relaxed ease and this melody was very pleasing. The second piece was Keiko Abe’s “Variations on Japanese Children’s Songs”. Another classic in the repretoire, this powerful piece requires a confident technique to deliver very quick attacks. Ms. Chen performed this confidently. Finally, the evening was concluded with Claude Debussy’s “Dr. Graddus ad Parnassum (from Children’s Corner Suite)”. Ms. Chen played this a little bit faster that traditionally played and it lost a little of the emotion due to the technique needed to play it this fast. However, it was still a wonderful performance on a piece that is far from easy to play.

The evening was amazing. To hear marimba classics played by extremely talented performers and to hear new premieres in the same concert was a real treat. With respect to all of the performers, I would personally have put Ms. Kamiya as the first place winner based on these live performances, but all three were simply amazing! Thank you for a wonderful performance. To see the pictures of the perfomers, visit the Facebook page of the Classical Marimba League, or the Twitpic pictures of: Yun-Ju Chou, Hiromi Kamiya, and Yi-Chia Chen.

Classical Marimba League at The University of Minnesota – Composition Contest Winners Concert

The Classical Marimba League Composition Contest Winners Concert was held at the University of Minnesota at Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall on April 1st at 7:30pm.

The concert was performed by undergraduate and graduate students of Fernando Meza’s percussion studio at the U of M and showcased a few pieces from the standard marimba literature as well as three new composition contest winners. The full program including performance notes is available.

The first piece was Steven Mackey’s “See Ya Thursday” performed by Adam Rappel. Most marimbist are familiar with this piece on Nancy Zeltsman’s CD of the same name. For me, this was the first time I have seen this played and what an acrobatic treat it was. This is an advanced piece not because the notes are flying fast and furious but because of the long stretches and arm reaches to cover the entire 5 octaves of the marimba. I enjoyed Adam’s touch and his ability to convey that sometimes music is not about the notes, but the space between the notes.

The second piece was Ross Edwards “Marimba Dances” performed by Brittany Piatz. Evelynne Glennie has performed this on her “Light In Darkness” CD. A piece in 3 movements, movement 3 was performed this evening. Brittany has a nice appreciation for dynamic range throughout and a couple note mistakes didn’t detract from the overall performance which was well received. I did wish this piece would have “danced” a little more and because the room was very dry the mallets were one grade too hard.

The third piece was Robert Schumann’s “Remembrance” performed by Eric Neseth. Leigh Howard Stevens arranged and performed this on his CD “Marimba When”. These familiar melodies for piano fit very nicely on the marimba. Tonight’s performance by Eric was note accurate, conveyed the correct style, and was appropriately “pretty”.

The fourth piece was Leander Kaiser’s “Minotaurus 4.3” performed by Scotty Horey. This piece was the winner in the classical category of the CML competition. The excitement of seeing a new piece performed was only matched by Scotty’s powerful and confident command of the marimba. The piece’s difficultly appeared to be at the advanced college level and didn’t appear to require advanced marimba techniques. There were a number of arpeggio sections sprinkled through the 8 minutes and the piece ended with a powerful and satisfying ending.

The fifth piece was Jens Schliecker and Nils Rohwer’s “ConcorDance” performed by Adam Rappel, marimba and Leah Siltberg, piano. Although the program didn’t mention this was in two movements there was a definite break between the 4 mallet first movement and the 2 mallet second movement. The piece does require a 5-octave marimba. The piece started with some tonal chords that were balanced very well with the piano throughout movement 1. For the second part, the rhythm picked up and the the piece had some “pop”.

The sixth and final piece was Kit Mills “Three European Folksongs” performed by Jennifer Klukken, Brittany Piatz, and Ethan Shervey performing at the same time on one 5-octave marimba. This piece was the winner of the romantic category of the CML. Movement 1 was entitled “French” and featured a 2-mallet player on the top octave with the other two performers using 4-mallets in the lower registers. Movement 2 entitled “English” which features good passion and energy by the performers and some sections requiring rolls. Movement 3 entitled “Spanish” started with a 4-mallet solo which handed off to a 2-mallet cadenza and then a 12/8 triplet feeling melody. A quick suprise with the mallet shafts kept the piece lively and light and definitely earned the title “Spanish”. All 3 performers negotiated the mallet changes and close playing quarters very nicely and this piece was received very well by myself and the audience.

Overall this was a wonderful concert which was enjoyed by over 50 audience members. I want to personally thank all of the players for a very enjoyable evening. I have included a photo below of the performers. The next blog post will focus on the marimba competition part of the event.


Classical Marimba League at The University of Minnesota – Part 1

The Classical Marimba League “accomplishes it’s mission through the promotion of new classical music composed by the most creative emerging talents in the arts today”.

One of the challenges that the marimba faces as a concert instrument is that most of the standard literature written for the marimba has been written in the last 60-70 years. That isn’t to say all of the marimba music is 20th century, but when you compare that to the violin or the piano, there is a large gap in marimba music written in the older classical styles.

In addition to Composition Competitions, there are semi-annual Marimba Artist Competitions to showcase both the new music as well as the talents of many marimbists.

April 1st and 2nd (tonight and tomorrow), at the University of Minnesota, there is a public concert featuring the Classical Marimba League. I contacted the host of the event Fernando Meza (University of Minnesota Associate Professor of Percussion and Director of Percussion Studies), to see what pieces will be performed. I also saw via Twitter that Nathan Daughtrey will be flying in for the event. I will post more as the event progresses. For now, here is the list of pieces that will be performed. Enjoy! I know that I will!

April 1st—–

See Ya Thursday – Steven Mackey
Adam Rappel, marimba

Marimba Dances – Ross Edwards
Brittany Piatz, marimba

Remembrance – Robert Schumann (arr. Stevens)
Eric Neseth, marimba

Winner, CML Classical category:
Minotaurus 4.3 –  Leander Kaiser
Scotty Horey, marimba

Honorable Mention, CML 21st Century category:
ConcorDance –  Jens Schliecker/Nils Rohwer
Adam Rappel, marimba
Leah Siltberg, piano

Winner, CML Romantic category:
Three European Folksongs –  Kit Mills
I. French
II. English
III. Spanish
Jennifer Klukken, Brittany Piatz, Ethan Shervey, marimbas

April 2 —-

(3rd place winner)
Concerto for Marimba and Wind Ensemble (Mvt. II Cadenza, Fuga) –
Yiu-Kwong Chung
Dances of Earth and Fire – Peter Klatzow
Marimba d’Amore – Keiko Abe
Yun-Ju Chou, marimba

(2nd place winner)
Merlin – Andrew Thomas
HATO-OTO    –  Hirotake Kitakata (USA Premiere)
Hiromi Kamiya, marimba

(1st place winner)
Cameleon – Eric Sammut
Variations on Japanese Children’s Songs – Keiko Abe
Dr. Graddus ad Parnassum (from Children’s Corner Suite) – Claude Debussy
Yi-Chia Chen, marimba