Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 9:44 am | Partly Cloudy 62º


Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Percussion and Mallet Ensembles to Pay Tribute to Professor Kraft

Saturday's program in Karl Geiringer Hall will feature two of his works

Composer William Kraft
Composer William Kraft

The UCSB Percussion Ensemble seems to have undergone a nominal metamorphosis — not to mention a numerical mitosis — and is now to be known as the UCSB Percussion and Mallet Ensembles.

(Possibly, the name “Percussion Ensemble” suggested to some potential concert-goers a stage full of people pounding away on a variety of drums — never mind that the xylophone, the marimba, the triangle and even the piano are all classed as percussion instruments.)

It’s fine with me, so long as Jon Nathan is running the show.

The Percussion and Mallet Ensembles will perform a concert at 4 p.m. Saturday in Karl Geiringer Hall (Music Room 1250). The participating musicians, under the direction of Nathan, will be Erin Olsen, Isabel Garcia, Ben Donlon, Michael Lagerfeld, Matt Richards and Chavadith Tantavirojn.

A main theme of the program appears to be a thoroughly deserved homage to Emeritus Professor William Kraft, first holder of the Corwin Chair in Composition at UCSB and a key figure in American percussion music for at least the past half-century.

Kraft was first active in Los Angeles in the days when that city was the capital of European music, when Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Rachmaninov were neighbors and Arnold Schoenberg lived just down the street.

According to his publisher’s website, “During his early years in Los Angeles, Mr. Kraft organized and directed the Los Angeles Percussion Ensemble, a group which played a vital part in premieres and recordings of works by such renowned composers as Ginastera, Harrison, Krenek, Stravinsky, Varèse and many others. As percussion soloist, he performed the American premieres of Stockhausen’s Zyklus and Boulez’s Le Marteau sans Maître, in addition to recording Histoire du soldat under Stravinsky’s direction.” On top of which, he is a sweet and charming man.

Two works by Kraft grace this program — his groundbreaking Suite for Percussion (1958) and the rarely heard Percussion Quartet (1988). We will also hear from Steve Reich, his Mallet Quartet (2009), and from Lukas Ligeti, whose Patten Transformation is “a quartet for marimbists on two instruments.” Finally, there will be a movement, “Nocturnal Dance” — a solo marimba performance by Chavadith Tantavirojn — from Trio Per Uno by composer-percussionist Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovik.

Tickets to the concert are $15 for general admission and $7 for students, and will be available 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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