The Florida State University Percussion Ensemble played a concert last evening to kick off a brief tour that will culminate in a performance at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention this Friday in Columbus, Ohio.
My personal and working relationship with the Ensemble's Director, John Parks, keeps me from writing real reviews of his work, but I can say with all honesty that if you dig percussion (and who doesn't?) you should hear them on this tour:
29 Oct: McEachern High School, Atlanta, GA;
30 Oct: Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond; and
2 Nov: PASIC, Columbus, OH.
The program includes, among other pieces, Edgard Varese's epoch-making Ionisation, which the Ensemble gave a powerful performance here last night. The concert also includes pieces by Clif Walker, Rüdiger Pawassar, Pietro Mascagni (yes, you read that right), Astor Piazzolla, and David Skidmore.
Skidmore's From In Contact (2007) was commissioned by the Ensemble, and is notable because it is a very good piece and because it confirms a trend that Alex Ross noted nearly three years ago--a turning away from the relatively simple surfaces/designs and overt pop references of the music of composers who came of age in the 1960s and 70s (in other words, my generation) and an opening up to include a wider array of materials, especially in terms of harmony and rhythm. I was glad to hear such a piece by a young composer (Skidmore was born in 1982) and to hear that it was very good, and well received by the audience.
Check 'em out if you can.