Once again Composers, Inc. offers a panoply of new works, including Eric Moe’s querulous cello/piano duo Mud Wrestling at the O.K. Corral performed by Nina Flyer and Miles Graber; works of Joan Tower and Allen Shearer performed by members of The Bay Brass and percussionist Mckenzie Camp; two dynamic bass clarinet/marimba pieces performed by Transient Canvas, and Ryan Rey’s newest for piano and electronics played by Emily Tian. Join us!
Copperwave for brass quintet
Mud Wrestling at the O.K. Corral for cello and piano
Road Piece for brass trio and percussion
Branches for bass clarinet and marimba
Super Mutant! for bass clarinet and marimba
Binary Ripples for piano and electronics
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - 8 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley
It was exactly a year ago tomorrow that I left for Montreal for my 2 month adventure/project as a percussionist working with kids who have autism.
A little background...
Out of the blue I had received a phone call from a company in London called Music for Autism International. They were given my name by a colleague at San Francisco Opera where I am a percussion extra. This company wanted to hire me to do a project involving classical percussion and kids on the spectrum, something that “had never been done before.”
After almost a year of talking, planning, and trying to find the right place for the project, I was on a plane to Montreal. I didn’t really even think I’d be going until I was all of a sudden sitting on the plane, thinking "ok, i'm really doing this." And once I left, all I knew was they hired me because I was a percussionist, and for some reason thought I was the right person for this job. I had worked with kids before, but never kids on the spectrum.
A steep learning curve...
I fell in love with these kids on day one. But the first day felt like a train wreck. I was going to be working with all of the students at Giant Steps School, a school specifically for kids ages 4-21 who have autism. But that's all I knew. I wasn’t given a lot of direction, and there were many different opinions on what our end goal was. What were we trying to accomplish that was different from the music therapy these kids already participated in weekly? What could I, a performer with no experience working with kids on the spectrum, bring to these kids? I just wanted to make music with them, to give them the chance to have fun and to be exposed to a kind of music they hadn’t been before. But there was so much more to it than just that... Not to mention the fact that I had NEVER done anything like this before, so even the tiniest details were hard at first. But I learned, and fast. We decided to work toward the end goal of a concert, with the understanding that it might never happen. We organized the students into groups, and I started teaching them percussion ensemble pieces and percussion solos, as well as collaborations where I played solos and they played drum beats over it. We had no idea if this was going to work.
Every day, I learned something new. I learned how to teach, how to play with the kids, how to adapt along with them, and how to communicate. We tried color-coding marimba bars. We tried hand movements. I learned to count to four in French. And every day these kids amazed me. Some of them were so full of talent. I taught one boy how to play Flight of the Bumblebee in 15 minutes, and he played it for me every week. We rocked out on drums, we learned a piece on trashcans, we dabbed (yes I am referring to the Usain Bolt move), we laughed, we cried. For some of the students, all they needed was to see me play it once and then they got it. Others needed constant hands-on attention. There were good days, there were many rough days, even more scheduling issues...the concert day loomed closer and closer...
After seven weeks of this, we were able to put on a big concert. It actually happened! I performed, the kids performed, and let me tell you-they absolutely rocked it. They played marimba solos, they played chamber pieces with all different percussionist instruments including the piece on trashcans, and even one piece where we used our bodies as percussion instruments. We ended the show with every student from the school on stage (90 students with their teachers). Some played drums, some just moved with the music, and one student was our conductor, in our own rendition of Ravel's Bolero with that famous drum beat. Many thought this concert was impossible. Especially the last piece where the whole school was on stage. But it came together beautifully.
Yes, it was all over the news, yes the Montreal rock star Sam Roberts came to play for the kids one day and see what they were learning in this project. But the success was the kids themselves, their smiling faces, especially after the awesome concert to a packed crowd. They had accomplished something great and they knew it. They were proud of themselves, too.
Looking back, I realize the concert could have been a disaster. Concert day was the first day the kids had been in this space, somewhere they had never been before. There was a huge crowd, which would make anyone nervous. There were so many transitions from different pieces, and so many things that could have gone so wrong. But everything went smoothly! Thanks to the support of the amazing teachers at the school. It would never have happened without them, and their own ideas they brought for the pieces and the concert. I was lucky to have an amazing partner for these 7 weeks, the music therapist who works with the kids weekly at the school. She knew these kids well! But another challenge of mine was that I also had to push the boundaries of what she thought they could do. And they did it, above and beyond.
Power of Music
Music wasn’t every kids' cup of tea. Honestly though, most of them really loved it. Some of them were mesmerized when I played marimba solos for them. I’m reminded of little boy who would scream and cry when he had to leave the marimba. Others preferred djembes and snare drum. One boy was so well behaved every session, but I found out later he had serious behavioral issues in other classes. I have so many memories of these little sweethearts. One little guy told me I was his real friend. Another remembered my birthday and sang to me after I had told him what day it was over a month before. Another came in every day just to say “j'aime la musique!” (I love music!)
Would I do it differently next time? Definitely. But I didn’t know then what I know now. My challenge to everyone-go for the things you aren’t qualified for. Face the fear of failure. If the opportunity arises, and you know you are supposed to go for it, even if it seems like “I am the least qualified person for this job,” it probably means you are the best suited. Humility, a willingness to learn, and the giant possibility of failure will all eventually add up to success and going places you never would have had the chance to go if you hadn’t said yes.
photos by Ross White
AWESOME SHOWS APRIL 28th and 29th!
1. 7:30pm, Friday, April 28th, Stanford Unviersity: I’ll be performing Daniel Wohl’s piece Kin for solo percussion and electronics, and will be joined by dancer Megan Nicely as a part of Stanford New Ensemble’s concert “Strange Attractors.” More info below! Did I mention this concert is FREE? :)
2. 9:30pm, Friday, April 28th, DNA LOUNGE 375 11th Street San Francisco: I’ll be performing with Mercury Soul, the brainchild of Mason Bates. We will be playing Drumming, In C, and some other cool interludes, interspersing classical sets with DJ sets. I am PUMPED for this awesome show - check out their site here:
3. 7:30pm Saturday, April 29th, at Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church (1329 Seventh Avenue between Irving and Judah): I’ll be performing with flutist Jessie Nucho for an evening of contemporary flute and percussion music. Featuring a variety of styles and soundscapes, the program showcases the ability of these instruments to blend into one sound. Includes works by David Lang, Aaron Helgeson, Alexandre Lunsqui, and the Bay Area’s own Lou Harrison. Purchase tickets here:
Stanford New Ensemble: Strange Attractors
April 28 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Location: Henry and Monique Brandon Family Community Room, Black Community Services Center - FREE!
Stanford New Ensemble presents “Strange Attractors,” a concert of new music and dance featuring members of Wild Rumpus and Megan Nicely/Dance. A varied selection of pieces written in the last 35 years span a wide range of styles and prominently feature unusual groupings of instruments, influences, and styles. Daniel Wohl’s Kin for percussion and electronics assembles a mosaic of sounds from disparate elements offered by 20 individuals. Lou Harrison’s Suite from Nek Chand uses the unique sound of the just intonation National steel guitar to weave together Hawaiian and Indian influences. Brian Ferneyhough’s Cassandra’s Dream Song for solo flute evokes a dream through a tightly-controlled structure, while Ted Hearne’s Furtive Movements pairs cello and percussion, obfuscating their normal musical roles and blurring the lines between their identities.
Mckenzie Camp: percussion
Joanne de Mars: cello
Giacomo Fiore: guitar
Ed Garcia: percussion
Bethanne Walker: flute
Megan Nicely/DANCE: dancer
MERCURY SOUL PRESENTS: CALIFORNIA MYSTICS
Fri April 28, 2017 – 9pm doors open
375 11th St, San Francisco, CA
Come help us celebrate the revolutionary music of California composers Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Lou Harrison, and Zoe Keating. We’ll have a solo set by Zoe Keating, as well performances of Reich’s Drumming and Nagoya Marimbas, Del Sol String Quartet playing Harrison’s Estampie, and Riley’s In C.
Back in San Francisco after my two-month Montreal adventure! As a classical percussionist, I was hired by Music for Autism International for a pilot percussion project where I would perform alongside and work with kids on the autism spectrum for two months with the goal of a concert at the end, which happened on December 16th! I performed, and the kids of Giant Steps School performed solo and ensemble pieces that I worked with them on. It was a huge success and also life-changing for me (I am really missing those kids!)
Here is a link to the CBC News Report of the concert, starting at 19:50:
Percussion Project Concert
Sam Roberts came to visit the percussion pilot project = classical meets rock!
I found some very talented kids in my two months there, one who was able to learn Flight of the Bumblebee in two short 15 minute sessions! Very proud of these talented kids.
Now we are on to 2017! I came home to two albums in the mail that I contributed to-the Young Womens Chorus album Rejoice! and also a pretty cool looking record by Brian Davis.
Here's to Looking Forward:
Jessie Nucho, flautist extraordinaire, and myself are starting work for our duo concert in April at Seventh Avenue Performances!
I will also be joining Island City Opera for my second season, and my first time playing Don Quixote.
Our Wild Rumpus season continues, with our end-of-season show in May. And I am also ready to get back to my piano and percussion students! I have missed those cute faces and have some exciting plans for them this semester, including their annual recital.
Happy New Year!
I can't tell you how many times i have been stared at blankly when i use the word percussionist. My uncle teased me recently when i showed him my sparkling new business cards- "Pear-shoosh-un-ist...What the heck is a "Pearshooshunist!?" he asked.
I laughed, but internally cringed because I knew this reaction was probably more common than people let on to me. Usually the silence and cricket sounds are all I hear.
My very technical definition of a percussion instrument is anything you can hit on. Junk.
A metal sheet. Pans. Bowls. Bicycle spokes. Your stomach. Or the more classical, traditional instruments such as a bass drum, cymbals, gongs, glockenspiel, xylophone, timpani, drum set, marimba (or, as my high school bestie used to call it, the "marumba"). Percussion instruments are things that are struck, either by a mallet, a hand, or another instrument. This is also why piano is considered to be a part of the percussion family, because the hammer strikes the string to create the sound.
Technically, to a percussionist, every object could be an instrument. I'm sitting in my room, looking around imagining the different sounds I could get just from a piece of furniture or hitting on the wood floor.
Junk yards are gold to us; I have found many awesome instruments digging around storage areas on my dad's farm (thanks dad).
Percussion is all about sound. It may seem easy to just hit something for a living, but there are different ways to get different sounds, and a finesse in finding how to do this consistently and musically. (So all our hours of practice really DO accomplish something!)
We have two types of instruments: the non-pitched instruments (like a snare drum) as well as the pitched, melodic instruments (like the xylophone).
Another common question is the difference between all of the pitched instruments-these are the instruments that kind of resemble a piano, except with wood or metal bars that are struck with a mallet. or four. (or bowed with a string bow, or lightly tapped with a finger, and the options go on and on...)
A glockenspiel, which we often call bells or glock for short, is small, metal, and very high pitched and piercing. A xylophone is made of wooden bars and has resonators, and is also high and piercing. The more mellow sounding vibraphone is metal, has resonators, and also has a pedal so it can sustain. The marimba is the gigantic one, with wooden bars, a huge range, resonators, and would take up half of my living room.
So as a percussionist, I hit things. And next time someone asks me what I do for a living,
I think I'll just keep it simple and tell them that.
Hello friends! I wanted to give you a few quick updates as well as let you know about a few concerts I have coming up.
May 5th: I'll be playing with the Berkeley Symphony on the West Coast Premiere of Mark Grey's Frankenstein Symphony based on, yes, you guessed, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein!
The concert is at 8:00pm at Zellerbach Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus.
May 6th: I'll be performing a solo snare drum with electronics piece called fzzl by Dan VanHassel at Stanford for a lunchtime concert with Wild Rumpus:
Stanford New Ensemble: Monologues and Metamorphoses12:30PM | FOYER, JEN-HSUN HUANG ENGINEERING CENTER, MAP
The program Monologues and Metamorphoses will include contemporary pieces for "small forces" featuring Bethanne Walker, flute; Vanessa Langer, soprano; Joanne De Mars, cello; and Mckenzie Camp, percussion – all members of Wild Rumpus, a San Francisco-based new music ensemble.
Bernhard Lang: Monadologie XVI for solo flute
Robert Honstein: We Chose to go to the Moon, for cello and soprano
Dan VanHassel: Fzzl for snare drum and live electronics
Ursula Kwong-Brown: Sonnet XX for solo cello
Toru Takemitsu: Voice for solo flute
John Tavener: Akhmatova for cello and soprano
The performance will be below the Forbes Family Cafe. Please bring your lunch and sit on the stairs.
May 14th: we are doing a reprise of Eun Young Lee's piece Chiaroscuro for violin, percussion, and voice at the amazing Mia Nardi-Huffman's graduate violin recital at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music at 8:00pm. If you missed our last performance, don't want to miss this one! And Eun Young Lee, the composer, will be there to talk about her piece!
A few weekends ago, I got my cajon and djembe on performing at the first ever Treble Choir Festival. I played on two of Jim Papoulis' pieces, and he came out as the guest conductor and did workshops with the groups. It was fun working with him, and I always love playing with the fantastic Young Women's Chorus and Susan!
This past weekend I attended a conference in Boston focused on teaching music to students on the autistic spectrum, along with MFAI's Jill Bradford. We had a blast and learned a lot!
Also this week, I made a fun piano board game for my students, which is great incentive and is getting rid of the end-of-school-year lull. We will be having a recital at the end of the year, and I know they will be great!
Happy March to you all! Wanted to let you know about some upcoming shows, would love if you could make it out~
I have two more La Boheme shows with Island City Opera- this Friday March 11th at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm at Elks Lodge Ballroom in Alameda.
Next Friday, March 18th, Wild Rumpus is performing a *FREE* concert at Presidio Sessions from 6-7:30pm. I am playing on three AWESOME pieces- Chiaroscuro by Eun Young Lee for voice/violin/percussion, a brand new work written for us by our very own Jen Wang called Balaenoptera for voice/vibraphone/bass, and Weston Olencki's arrangement of Lightning Bolt's Dracula Mountain (super cool!). More details on the pieces below.
More Wild Rumpus recording! Last weekend, we recorded some more pieces for the album In Time at Fantasy Studios.
I'll be recording a piece with Young Women's Chorus at Skywalker Sound in June. May the force be with us :P
Also excited to start working on Daniel Wohl's new piece Kin for solo percussion and electronics that I was a part of commissioning, hope to perform it sometime later this year!
Eun Young Lee's piece is based on Robert Frost's poem Now Close the Window
NOW close the windows and hush all the fields;
If the trees must, let them silently toss;
No bird is singing now, and if there is,
Be it my loss.
It will be long ere the marshes resume,
It will be long ere the earliest bird:
So close the windows and not hear the wind,
But see all wind-stirred.
Jen Wang's Balaenoptera text by Joshua Bennett:
When we are old
Hair the color of tombstones.
That sound like wet windshield wipers whenever we slow dance through the living room.
That I will look you in the eye and say
Did you know? that a blue whale has a heart the size of a car?
When you reply correctly as you always seem to do when I ask you difficult questions about
I’ll just laugh, rejoicing over the fact that every time you smile it makes the wrinkles at the
corner of your eyes look like six willow branches all lifting their heads from prayer in unison
Wind, humming a somber hymn beneath its breath...
When I was Twenty-two years old
An ocean away with the kind of pain that drives [us] to do selfish, barely forgivable things.
I dreamt of you nightly, hunted for your smile
Hoping that I could steal a glance,
Download it onto my retinas and replay the moment our eyes first played freeze tag.
And neither one of us wanted to stop being 'it'.
So we just kept on touching, hoping time would give us a hall pass, and allow us to orbit one
And speaking of orbits, did you know? That there are more stars in the sky, than grains of sand
on the entire planet.
And That I would give you either one if you merely asked,
Peel the night from the sky's skin like the rind of an orange,
Or ask God, If I could borrow the breeze for just a moment, and blow the shoreline of every
beach into a giant hourglass made just for us, and say THIS, is how long I will adore the things
about you that no one else even notices.
And maybe, if you asked me to, I would crawl through the veins of a blue whale on my hands
and knees, photograph that Volkswagen sized heart of hers, and place the picture on your pillow
before you went to sleep.
When you ask me about, I'll probably just laugh, and say,
“The biggest heartbeat God ever made and now it's all yours.”
Reviews reviews reviews! Here are a couple from our Wild Rumpus/Synchromy "The Only Place" collaboration back in January, enjoy reading, and see you soon at our March 18th Presidio Sessions show!
"highly imaginative rhythmic complexity coming from Camp’s percussion work"
read the whole Examiner review here: Wild Rumpus brings new music from Los Angeles and San Francisco to C4NM
From New Classic LA: "Composer collective Synchromy bridged the Nor Cal/So Cal gap and opened the floodgates for inter-state collaboration. In other words, they hosted the incredible San Francisco based new music ensemble Wild Rumpus, down here at ArtShare. After seeing the group perform at last year’s New Music Gathering, Synchromy member Nick Norton said that it was “only a matter of time” before they made their way down to LA. And while building a “California Sound” might be a bit ambitious for a single concert, the performers and composers featured showed an impressive artistic breadth that never felt overwhelming. More importantly, what this concert lacked was pomp. The audience was small (as one might expect for an out of town group) but excited to see what Wild Rumpus had in store. While some of the music was thorny, the whole show ended up fun. Fun isn’t typically the go to description of Contemporary Art Music, but from the noisy neighbors who did not care that “Serious Art Making” was happening downstairs, to Norton’s tie dyed FYF shirt and his band’s logo duct-taped to the front of the bass drum that made its way into the percussionist’s setup, the whole night felt a little impromptu, kind of spontaneous, and a bit like hanging out in a good friend’s garage...continue reading
I have two upcoming Wild Rumpus/Synchromy shows- this Saturday night January 23rd in L.A. at Art Share LA and next Tuesday night (Jan 26th) at Center for New Music in San Francisco at 8pm.
We are playing some pretty sweet pieces, and it's a fun collaboration with Synchromy, an L.A. based group.
I also have four opera shows coming up with Island City Opera in Alameda. This month we are playing Rigoletto. I will be playing La Boheme with them in March, too, so stay tuned! http://islandcityopera.org/
end of 2015...
Finished off last year with some fun backstage snare drum playing at SF Opera in Wagner's Die Meistersinger, playing bongos and bodhran with Young Women's Chorus (they are phenomenal by the way!) and doing some recording sessions with Wild Rumpus (see photo below- locked in my iso-booth!!!) :)
Excited for what 2016 will bring!
Wild Rumpus Receives Commissioning Grant
We are thrilled to announce that Wild Rumpus has received a Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning grant to support a new work by artistic director Dan VanHassel! The piece will be a song cycle for soprano, flute, trombone, violin, double bass, electric guitar, percussion, and piano, with text by Bay Area songwriter Jesse Rimler. We'll premiere the cycle in 2016, so stay tuned for news as the piece progresses!
This year, CMA's Classical Commissioning program awarded $198,100 to twelve ensembles, and we're honored by the company we're keeping. For the full list of awardees, please visit Chamber Music America.