NEC Percussion Group
The NEC Percussion Group (NECPG), directed by Will Hudgins, performs music that is largely centered around the unique and never-ending possibilities within the percussion world, as well as being augmented by extra-percussion musical offerings and instruments.
This year's concert selections will include both fiery and introspective works that will represent established pieces in the repertoire as well as recently composed "ink still wet" pieces. NECPG concerts always bring the fascinating combination of the aural and the visual aspects of music-making.
This is an in-person event with a private stream available to the NEC community here: https://necmusic.edu/live
Joseph Pereira | …tied to the past (2010)
Eli Geruschat, Ross Jarrell, Danial Kukuk, Halle Hayoung Song
Jordan Fajardo-Bird, Doyeon Kim, Mingchen Able Zhou
After studying percussion and composition at Boston University, Joseph Pereira became the assistant timpanist in the New York Philharmonic and subsequently became a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic as the principal timpanist. Pereira has continued his composition career to much acclaim, and his pieces have been performed throughout the world stages. His work …tied to the past is a fine example of the originality and creativity Pereira employs in his writing.
From the composer:
“… tied to the past received its premier in 2010. The title refers to an imaginary larger piece with the idea that the beginning is actually the climax of a larger work. The ensemble is equipped with drums, wood blocks and dry metal sounds, used to echo the two “soloists’” material. As the soloists’ material deteriorates, the ensemble starts to dictate all activity. The sound of muffled marimba played with bass drum mallets turns the pitched instrument into an eerie non-pitched rumble. In the last attempt to hold their ground with rimshots, the soloists are finally swallowed up by a cacophony of small wood planks played on top of glissing timpani, which acts as an echoing chamber. By the end all sounds dissipate to nothing…..”Ensembles
- Joseph Pereira | …tied to the past (2010)
Tōru Takemitsu | Rain Tree (1981)
Eli Reisz, Isabella Butler, Michael Rogers
Tōru Takemitsu was a Japanese composer and writer on aesthetics and music theory. Largely self-taught, Takemitsu was admired for the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre. He is known for combining elements of oriental and occidental philosophy and for fusing sound with silence and tradition with innovation. His percussion trio Rain Tree is considered a masterpiece in the percussion repertoire.
There are three compositions by Takemitsu on the subject of the Rain Tree. Rain Tree Sketch (1982) and Rain Tree Sketch II (1992, in memoriam Olivier Messiaen) are among Takemitsu's most often performed piano works. The origin of the Rain Tree Sketches can be traced back to Takemitsu's percussion trio Rain Tree (1981).
Rain Tree is used as a metaphor of water circulating in the cosmos, and Takemitsu employed Messiaen's modes of limited transposition in order to construct the pitch collections evocative of cosmic imagery. Takemitsu's goal as an artist was to expand the possibilities of music and to express himself through creation of a universal language. The title was suggested by a passage from the novel Atama no ii, Ame no Ki by Kenzaburo Oe: "It has been named the 'rain tree' for its abundant foliage continues to let fall rain drops collected from last night's shower until well after the following midday. Its hundreds of thousands of tiny leaves—finger-like—store up moisture while other trees dry up at once. What an ingenious tree, isn't it?"
Toru Takemitsu during an interview (1993):
"My music is like a garden, and I am the gardener. Listening to my music can be compared to walking through a garden and experiencing the changes in light, pattern, and texture. I do not like to emphasize too much with my music. Someone once criticized my music as getting to be very old fashioned. Maybe I am old, but I am looking back to the past with nostalgia. Composers are sometimes afraid to use tonality, but we can use anything from the tonal to the atonal -- this is our treasure. I can say that because I am Japanese!”
John Cage | Third Construction (1941)
Liam McManus, Halle Hayoung Song, Lucas Vogelman, Connor Willits
John Cage hardly needs an introduction. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreogra-pher Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives. Third Construction was composed in 1941 and dedicated to Xenia Kashevaroff-Cage, to whom Cage was married at the time and who played in his percussion orchestra. Over the decades the piece has become one of the most performed staples of the percussion ensemble genre. Third Construction is scored for four percussionists. There are 24 sections of 24 bars each, and the rhythmic structure is rotated between the players: 8, 2, 4, 5, 3, 2 for the fourth, 2, 8, 2, 4, 5, 3 for the first, etc. Among the truly unusual instruments used are rattles, drums, cowbells, lion’s roar, cymbals, rachet, teponaxtle, quijades, cricket callers and conch shell.
Maurice Wright | SIXES (2023)
played without pause
Eli Geruschat, Gustavo Barreda, Jordan Fajardo-Bird
Conner Willits, Lucas Vogelman, Liam McManus
Dr. Maurice Wright grew up in rural northern Virginia and moved to Florida as a pre-teen. Later he attended graduate school at Columbia University after completing his undergraduate degree at Duke University. After Columbia, he taught at Boston University for one year before receiving an offer from Temple University. He has been there for more than 40 years, enjoying “being in the middle of music and musical history in Philadelphia. I also wanted to be part of a more egalitarian mindset. As part of its mission, Temple opens its doors to anybody who has demonstrated talent in music, which makes it a great place to be.”
In addition to teaching, Dr. Wright has had an extremely active life in composition, in which he has included many works for percussion. These works include concerti for timpani & marimba (premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra respectively), and many chamber works for percussion and percussion with mixed instrumentation. Regarding the far reaching thought process of his work, Dr. Wright states: “I’m always working on a piece at a time, whether that’s an opera, orchestral music, computer and electronic music, or trying to tie music with graphics and even robots.”
Regarding tonight’s world premiere of his new percussion work SIXES, Dr. Wright states:
“SIXES looks at ways to organize a group of six percussionists. Their traditional instruments are augmented by a mallet controller (that looks something like vibraphone), which provides musical codes for synthesis software composed for this piece. The first movement—"Chant”—features a melodic quartet of pitched percussion instruments in a canonic introduction somewhat akin to Renaissance counterpoint. The two remaining performers initially support the majority—one quietly playing a drum, the other contributing computer synthesized reverberation of the pitched instruments. The movement then breaks the quiet and calm of its beginning with a series of rhythmic episodes before returning to an unwinding of the opening music. “Sarabande” is structured as a vibraphone solo with five generally supporting—although at times distracting—other instruments. The concluding movement begins with 6 soloists playing multiple instruments in a whirlwind of micro-melodies. As the broken phrases are restored and extended, the finale achieves a unified, forceful voice. The three movements are played without pause.”