mckenzie camp, percussionist
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!