Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keiko Abe's contributions to the contemporary marimba repertoire have been a milestone in the development of the marimba as a solo concert instrument. Besides the creation of a new repertoire through commissions and her own compositions, Abe's contributions to the marimba include the improvement of the sound quality of the marimba and the establishment of the five octave instrument as the standard concert marimba. During the last four decades, her compositions have been performed and studied worldwide and become standard literature for the marimba. She has written more than sixty compositions for marimba, including concertos, duets and solo pieces [note thanks to Juan Manuel Alamo Santos/UNT Digital Library]. Watch a performance of Keiko Abe's Prism Rhapsody (1995) played by marimba soloist Karen Takaguchi . . . it's one of our NEW MUSIC VIDEOS for the week.

Mark Ford is the coordinator of percussion activities at The University of North Texas in Denton, Texas and a past president of the Percussive Arts Society. He is a marimba specialist and the coordinator of one of the largest percussion programs in the United States at UNT. Ford is an active performer on the marimba and he has been featured throughout the United States at universities and music conferences. He also regularly performs at International Music Festivals in South America, Asia, Australia and Europe. Watch a performance of Mark Ford and alto saxophonist Ann Bradfield playing Ford's Wink (2011). Ford wrote Wink for his sons, Austin (marimba) and Kevin (saxophone). Premiered in 2011, Wink is a "groovy-hip collaboration that explores three main themes: a syncopated melody, a floating assertion, and a waltz-like phrase. This piece gradually builds to a rock-style adaptation of the opening statement to end the work. The title refers to those beautiful moments between fathers and sons when words are not necessary, just a wink and a smile" . . . it's this week BANG, CLANG and BEAT - NEW MUSIC.

Vincent Ho is widely recognized as one of the most exciting composers of his generation. His works have been hailed for their profound expressiveness and textural beauty that has audiences talking about with great enthusiasm. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Vincent Ho began his musical training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, and the University of Southern California (2005). His mentors have included Allan Bell, David Eagle, Christos Hatzis, Walter Buczynski, and Stephen Hartke. His many awards have included Harvard University's Fromm Music Commission, The Canada Council for the Arts' "Robert Fleming Prize," ASCAP's "Morton Gould Young Composer Award," four SOCAN Young Composers Awards, and CBC Radio's Audience Choice Award (2009 Young Composers' Competition). Listen to a performance of Vincent Ho's Four Snapshots of a Dream (2002) . . .  it's one of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.

Alexandra Gardner composed New Skin (2004) for flutist Barbara Held. It combines recordings of dawn from various locations, digitally processed gong and percussion sounds, and live alto flute in a structured improvisation. In many cultures sunrise is received with rituals of respect and thankfulness, acknowledged as a new beginning, or rebirth. In this composition my intention is to evoke an arrival into "light"-a sense of awakening to a new day. Listen to Alexandra Gardner's New Skin for solo flute  .  . . . it's this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

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