It’s been a busy few months and I wanted to share what’s been happening. Often when deadlines loom and concerts are happening one after the other, it becomes difficult to absorb and reflect on the outcome. For me, it’s important to take the time to document these performances simply for the sheer amount of preparation, practicing and work that goes into them. Knowing that words will never quite convey the experience of live performance, reflection helps me move on to the next concert.
A few weeks ago I was part of the NYC Weekend of Percussion where I was a featured soloist with newly formed all female percussion quartet, Excelsis:
I’ve spent my life performing some of the hardest solo percussion repertoire out there, but nothing brings me greater joy than playing drum set and true in the moment improvisation. I look forward to collaborating with this quartet more in the future.
The program also included two of my original works:
Liquefaction (click title to hear clip)
Harmonic Filter (click title to hear clip)
Literally, the next day I was immersed in curating the solo percussion arsenal for Richard Danielpour’s new work, Celestial Circus for three percussionists and two pianists. The set up was huge and it was premiered in one of the most beautiful halls in New York City: Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. We put a lot of rehearsal time in on this premiere and the end result was extremely rewarding.
Next weekend is the 2014 PAS Weekend of Percussion here in New York City and I’m excited to be performing 3 works on the Showcase Concert Saturday evening. I’ll be performing two of my new original compositions for amplified marimba and vibraphone and will be the featured drum set soloist on Bobby Previte’s: Terminals: Concerto for Drum Set and Percussion Ensemble with the recently formed, all female percussion group, Excelsis. And, guess what? IT’S FREE!!!! Hope to see you there.
Winter Solstice: The Return of Light
Winter is always a difficult time of year for me. It’s dark, cold, and everything seems just a little bit harder.
We have our gloves, an extra coat, and and extra layer of clothes to lug around. But, when we reach the winter solstice, I always feel a glimmer of hope. Despite the cold, the return of small increments of light makes it possible to weather the cold until spring arrives.
This year it seems like my life was right in line with the flow of the universe. No matter how much you practice, no matter how far you think you’ve gotten, there is always another step to go, and sometimes, that step isn’t the one you see coming. More often than not, it can seem like there is always another obstacle blocking your path. In the end, I am reminded the hard way of one of my favorite buddhist quotes “You already are what you want to become”.
In truth, everything else is just an illusion. People sometimes ask what the hardest part about the music business is. For me, it’s not learning the music, carrying and setting up hundreds of instruments, playing them all, traveling, practicing long hours, finding a place to practice, deadlines, projects, etc…
The single most difficult thing is Perseverance. Believing in yourself when nobody else seems to…
Rising every time you fall… Standing up again when you think you have nothing left to give.
So, as the light returns in the new year, this is my mantra, as it always has been: Die Trying.
And that’s exactly what I plan on doing. Although it might seem like an outward agenda, it’s actually an inward dilemma.
Perhaps things won’t turn out exactly the way we thought they would, but none of that matters if you keep believing in yourself.
My wish for all of you at the turn of the new year is the same.
Do not take no for an answer.
Find an alternate route.
Because the only thing stronger than fear, is hope.
My signature mallets have finally arrived! These mallets are great for concerto performances as well as cutting through ensembles. Great for orchestral players with a marimba part that needs to be heard from the back and for the soloist in front who needs to project to the back of the hall.
They are handcrafted by the amazing engineers at Marimba One for a beautiful cutting edge sound.
Available exclusively at Volkwein’s Music Store and online:
I returned late last night on the last flight from Detroit to JFK. Each time I perform it takes an enormous amount of inner and outer strength, but when the orchestra is behind me and we are making amazing music the details are swept aside and the moment takes over. As I was standing on stage with a longtime colleague and friend, conductor, Tim Muffitt, I looked out into the concert hall and realized how much I love what I do for a living. No matter how hard the struggle, no matter how many instruments, details and notes to learn, when I’m standing up there making music, I know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. It was a week of great conversations about music and beautiful energy on stage with the musicians in the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. The day after the performance I headed over to Central Michigan University to give a masterclass. It was early! But still great to work with the students. Thanks for an amazing week, Lansing.
I’m excited to spend the week in Michigan where I’ll be working with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Timothy Muffitt. If you happened to be in the area, please come check out this exciting percussion concerto and stop backstage after the show to say hello. Click below for to go directly to the Lansing Orchestra’s website and more information on where to buy tickets. Hope to see you there!
It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. Summer has been quite busy thus far. After my move to the Big Apple, I got to work in my new space preparing for the summer concerts in New Hampshire at the Monadnock Summer Festival.
If you haven’t visited, I highly recommend it. There is something quite special about that place. In the distance you can see Mt. Monadnock while being embraced with the rejuvenating silence of nature surrounding the community.
My recital took place in a historic church in Harrisville right off the beaten path. I performed during the east coast heatwave — without air conditioning. Thankfully, since I religiously practice hot yoga, I was prepared to sweat it out. Unlike many performers, I actually prefer the heat. It gets me in the zone much faster. It was also rewarding to premiere my new work, Harmonic Filter for vibraphone, electronics, and voice.
During my stay I was also able to listen to the final cut of the soon to be released Double Concerto for Percussion and Saxophone featuring myself and Kenneth Coon on baritone saxophone by composer Mathew Rosenblum. This piece is gritty and complex. It’s unlike any other duo piece out there. It will be unleashed to the masses next month on the BMOP Sound Label, I’ll keep you updated.
If you HEAR SOMETHING awesome—-SAY SOMETHING!
Art music needs all the help we can get.