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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Percussionists to Let Sounds ‘Rain’ Down

Thursday's ensemble concert will feature works by Lansky, Griswald and Takemitsu

The ever-surprising, ever-intriguing UCSB Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Jon Nathan, will perform “music with a visual component” — a concert called “Sights and Sounds” — at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 20 in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.

Composer Toru Takemitsu was a unique master of sound
Composer Toru Takemitsu was a unique master of sound.

The program for the concert includes Toru Takemitsu’s Rain Tree; Threads, a full-length cantata for percussion ensemble by Paul Lansky; and Eric Griswold’s Strings Attached.

I can’t say much about the Lanksy or Griswold pieces, never having heard anything by either composer, except to note that, if Nathan has put their music on his program, it will obviously reward our attention.

There isn’t much useful to be said, for that matter, about Takemitsu (1930-1996), except that he is one of the greatest and most original composers of the 20th century. No words can describe the way music — any music — sounds, and this is especially true of music, such as Takemitsu’s, that does not sound like any other music.

For my part, his music always sounds to me as if it were happening in space, as well as time. A more traditional and equally useless summation comes from Wikipedia: “Though largely self-taught, Takemitsu is recognized for his skill in the subtle manipulation of instrumental and orchestral timbre, drawing from a wide range of influences, including jazz, popular music, avant-garde procedures and traditional Japanese music, in a harmonic idiom largely derived from the music of Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen.”

Can you picture it? Rain Tree, written in 1981, is for three percussion players, or three keyboardists.

Admission to Thursday’s concert is $15 for the general public and $7 for students, with tickets sold at the door.

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

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