Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 3:29 am | Mostly Cloudy 55º

 
 
 
 

Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Percussionists Return with a Bang

Fans won't want to miss the ensemble's winter concert on Wednesday

The UCSB Percussion Ensemble — under the always innovative, always inspiring direction of Jon Nathan — will offer its winter concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Karl Geiringer Hall (Music 1250).

John Cage's Third Construction was dedicated to his then-wife, percussionist Xenia Kashevaroff-Cage
John Cage’s Third Construction was dedicated to his then-wife, percussionist Xenia Kashevaroff-Cage.

The venue pretty much precludes late arrivals, and fans of percussion will not want to miss any of this exciting program, which includes John Cage’s Third Construction, Bob Becker’s AWOL (Away Without Leave), Brett William Dietz’s Sharpened Stick, plus several minimalist works, including Steve Reich’s Nagoya Marimbas and Music for Pieces of Wood, and William Cahn’s Night Ride — the latter a miniature timpani concerto with drummer Matthew Richards.

Eighteen years after his death, Cage (1912-92) remains the subject of intractable controversy. Some revere him as a visionary genius; others revile him as a charlatan and practical joker. No one doubts that he was ahead of the curve, however — way ahead.

Third Construction, written in 1941, is the last of three like-named works for percussion ensembles — or, rather, for ensembles of percussionists. The work is dedicated to Cage’s then wife, percussionist Xenia Kashevaroff-Cage. The work calls for four players: Player I — Northwest Indian rattle (wooden), five graduated tin cans, three graduated drums (tom toms), claves, large Chinese cymbal (suspended), maracas, teponaxtle; Player II — three graduated drums (tom toms), five graduated tin cans, claves, two cowbells, Indo-Chinese rattle (wooden, with many separate chambers), lion’s roar; Player III — three graduated drums (tom toms), tambourine, five graduated tin cans, quijadas, claves, cricket callers (split bamboo), conch shell; and Player IV — tin can with tacks (rattle), five graduated tin cans, claves, maracas, three graduated drums (tom toms), wooden ratchet and bass drum roar.

In a 1992 article called “The Paradoxes of Percussion,” Becker wrote: “I am a percussionist by profession. As a member of the percussion group Nexus, I have been engaged to premiere a new concerto by an important composer at a very prestigious venue with a major symphony orchestra and conductor. We have just received the parts, and the first performance is six weeks away. … In less than six weeks, I am going to go out on a stage in front of a large and sophisticated audience, most of whom will have paid a substantial amount of money (and a few of whom will be describing my performance in the press) and perform on a musical instrument that I have never learned to play. I want to make it clear that this situation is unique for my colleagues and me only in degree.”

Like most of his colleagues on this program, Dietz acts as both performer and teacher. He is an assistant professor of percussion at the LSU School of Music and music director of Hamiruge, the LSU Percussion Group — thus, he is LSU’s Jon Nathan.

Cahn is an associate professor of percussion at the Eastman School. Like Becker, he has played in the celebrated percussion ensemble Nexus since 1971; from 1968 to 1995, he was principal percussionist in the Rochester Philharmonic.

Percussionists have to be flexible and diverse, witness the range of musicians with whom Cahn has collaborated: Cage, Chet Atkins, Carlos Chavez, Aaron Copland, Jimmy Durante, Chuck Mangione, Mitch Miller, Seiji Ozawa, Reich, Doc Severensen, Leopold Stokowski, Richard Stoltzman, Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varese and Paul Winter. See what I mean? Flexible and diverse. Cahn has published four books.

Tickets to the concert cost $20 for general admission and $9 for students, and will be sold at the door. For more information about the UCSB Music Department events, click here or call 805.893.7001.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >