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Williams Percussion Ensemble

Sat, December 1st, 2018
8:00 pm

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The Williams Percussion Ensemble (WiPE) presents its fall concert, Warp Woof & Weave, inviting the audience to experience an up close and intimate performance with seating on stage, surrounding the musicians. Listeners will be immersed in a world of intricate patterns and textures sounding from bowed vibraphones, chiming flower pots, marimbas, drums of all sorts, and warped electronic grooves.  In works by young composers at the cutting edge of contemporary music and influential masters of the late twentieth-century, Warp Woof & Weave zooms in on the undulating rhythms and fragmentary patterns that coalesce into the larger musical whole.

The program features works by a range of exciting young composers whose original ideas and voices are breaking new ground in contemporary music. Annika Socolofky’s The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: ambedo, takes its concept from the dictionary in its title.  It is a collection of words that, “aims to fill a hole in the [English] language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.” Ambedo is one such emotion. In Socolofsky’s work percussionists surround a vibraphone from all sides, playing it with banjo picks and bows, and sing under swelling chords. Fjóla Evans’s Shoaling, for piano, double bass, and percussion, explores the behavior of fish swimming together as a whole while still following their individual paths and the physical phenomenon of a wave growing in height as it hits shallow water. The work is an immersion in the rippling resonances of the instruments. Checkered Shade for mixed ensemble, by Timo Andres, was inspired by the patterned pen-and-ink abstractions of Astrid Bowlby—and by association, the work of Edward Gorey. The piece is a gradual zoom outward in which tiny fragments of repeated material resolve into larger patterns and eventually coalesce into an expressive chorale.

William Duckworth was an influential post-minimalist composer and Internet pioneer who developed interactive online modes of musical composition and performance.  His Gymel is minimalist work for marimbas and vibraphone in which tightly woven textures result from shifting melodic cells and pulsing rhythms. Randall Woolf’s “Toxic Rainbows of the Sea” is inspired by the endless succession of novelties and strange details of the nudibranch, a vast and varied family of remarkable sea slug-type creatures found throughout the world’s oceans.  The work evokes this aquatic world with liquid electronics, trippy beats, and four drum sets playing warped grooves. Frederic Rzewski’s To the Earth is classic for solo percussion utilizing nothing more than four flowerpots and the percussionist’s voice.

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