Friday, March 28, 2014

Weird Premieres

The first half of 2014 is proving to be particularly ripe with several "out of the ordinary" premieres. It started with plans, preparations, and all the necessary fixin's for a concert in February that was the premiere of the 2 flutes, 4 marimbas, 2 glockenspiels, and narrator version of Debussy's Bilitis, as well as Dexter Morrill's Fantasy for piccolo and percussion ensemble. The Iowa State University Percussion Ensemble was all poised to perform with the fabulous flutists, Scott Metlicka and Sonja Giles and then school was actually canceled! In a place where life doesn't skip a beat for 12 inches, even 16 inches of snow, we for real had a blizzard that closed school and canceled that concert. With schedules wedged together throughout the spring no future date could be set to make that concert happen, however some little bits of ideas have been forming to program the Debussy at the first Heartland Marimba Festival & Workshop this summer at ISU with 2 vibraphones, 4 marimbas, 2 glockenspiels, and narrator. In advance of the careless blizzard, Scott and I did get to premiere my composition Morning of Life for flute and marimba at other concerts in Iowa.

March and April are the "money" months, so to speak. On a 4,000 mile (that's 6,500+ kilometers) trip to Minot, ND and Edmonton and Regina, Canada I performed (so not actually a premiere) Neil Thornock's Illumination for solo chimes. Neil is the composer that has written me a carillon and percussion ensemble piece and a dulcimer solo. Some may not be surprised that he had composed a chime solo some years back, but I was extremely excited to be able to program a chime solo! I have just remembered that I neglected to mention Bjorn Berkhout's solo dulcimer work Torque that I premiered in January at ISU, which I also performed three times on the Canada tour. This "Great Tour of the Upper Prairie-lands" came about because of a fortunate rekindling of a friendship on Facebook. Angela Schroeder and I were at Northwestern University doing our Master's degrees together back in 2003 and she invited me to perform the Canadian premiere of Andrew Ardizzoia's Glass House Concerto for percussion soloist and wind ensemble with her ensemble at the University of Alberta-Edmonton.

Next up is the premiere of Steven Simpson's Images of Africa for dulcimer and six percussionists with the University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble, Daniel Moore, director. The very next day is the premiere of Igor Iachimciuc's Rustic Sketches for Marimba and Contrabass Ensemble with the Chicago Bass Ensemble (Jacque Harper, director) and Leslie B. Dunner conducting. Both of these compositions I hope to perform many more times, and the process with the composers, directors, and ensembles has been added to the top of the list of great collaborations!

So far we have just covered January through March. April will bring the premieres of solo marimba works by Igor Iachimciuc and Neil Thornock. Respectively, Through flowers (Iachimciuc) and Fanfares and Quantasy (Thornock) will be premiered at the Wyoming Day of Percussion at Casper College and the University of Utah.

Taking some time to write this timeline of events puts many things in perspective. These projects and collaborations are something to be forever cherished and considered in the class of living dreams. The fortune contained in these experiences is too great to funnel into words, but I hope that many artists will be inspired to tackle the lot of their creative fancies and bring together more unheard-of collaborations.

A big thank you to Bjorn Berkhout, Scott Metlicka, Sonja, Giles, Neil Thornock, Angela Schroeder, Andrew Ardizzoia, Dexter Morrill, Jacque Harper, Chicago Bass Ensemble, Leslie B. Dunner, Daniel Moore, the University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble, Steven Simpson, and Igor Iachimciuc!