I very nearly missed the Emory Percussion Symposium concert last night because I managed to overlook the little note in the email that said that we’d need to enter the Schwartz Center from the rear and come into Emerson Hall from back-stage. Fortunately, I saw a few people walking that way and started following them and, fortunately, they were going there, too. It was a good concert, so I’m glad that I didn’t give up and go home.
The show began with three pieces performed arx duo. The first was Alyssa Weinberg’s Table Talk, which is a really cool piece for prepared vibraphone. Two percussionists play one vibraphone and a couple of floor toms. The vibraphone is prepared with a rather odd array of things laid on top of some of the bars, such as a wood block, a stack of papers, a soda can, and a soup can. At times, one musician would mute the bars or use his mallets to modulate the pitch of the bars or toms to get a different effect. It was both interesting and also pleasant to listen to, with a pretty good groove underlying it and rhythms that were pretty easy to follow.
Next they played Seeds by Leonardo Gorosito and Rafael Alberto. This is a fun and clever piece for a variety of shakers. It mostly sounded good, though there was a bit of sustained shaking toward the end that took more of my patience than I’d liked to have given it. Overall, though, I really liked it.
I’m afraid that I didn’t care much for the next piece: an arrangement of four pieces by Stravinsky for two marimbas that came next. The four pieces were Piano-Rag Music, Tango, Scherzo, and Circus Polka. While I’ve enjoyed all four pieces in the past, I think that something was lost in transcription because I found myself losing interest pretty quickly.
Next the Petrasek Duo performed Toru Takemitsu’s Toward the Sea. I’ve heard it before played on guitar and flute but Joseph Petrasek played the guitar part on marimba. I like a lot of Takemitsu’s work but this isn’t my favorite and, in this arrangement, I found it to be a tad tedious. They played it well, though. I was pleased to see that the ASO made sure that its new principal percussionist came with a wife named Jessica who plays the flute, just like the last principal percussionist, and I was doubly pleased to hear them play together. I hope to have the opportunity to do so again.
The final work was movements II and III of Water by Alejandro Vinao. It was arranged for five percussionists and a piano and was performed with the percussionists surrounding the pianist playing marimbas, vibes, and glockenspiel. The piece kind of flows through a variety of grooves, taking bits of them along with it for a while and then letting them go as it moves on and picks up more. It was an enjoyable piece and a good conclusion for the concert.