Those of you who would not hesitate to buy an hour long CD of solo percussion music, please raise your mallets. Many of us assume that a program like this is intended for a narrow audience – percussionists to be exact. If you feel that way, Boomslang from Blue Griffin performed by Gwendolyn Burgett just might be the disc that could change your thinking.
Marimba player extraordinaire Gwendolyn Burgett performs five pieces for solo marimba on this endlessly fascinating CD. There’s a similarity to these works that initially obscures what’s different about them. Most of the music is characterized by a kaleidoscopic effect of subtly shifting colors and harmonies. It is somewhat mesmerizing and rather relaxing. Listening more closely on subsequent hearings, I was drawn further in by the unique characteristics of the individual pieces. In the first work, and title of the album, Boomslang by Roshanne Etezady, it was the complexity of the rhythms. In Douglas Fisk’s Impromptu (inspired by Schubert), it was the music’s placid surface and subtle harmonic shifts. One of my favorites, Ki no Uta (Wood-Song) by Ryan Howard, is the only work on the disc to incorporate electronics, which evidently freed up Ms. Burgett’s hands to add color with other wooden instruments, the temple block, claves, and güiro.
Four of the five works were commissioned by Michigan State University, where Gwendolyn Burgett teaches; obviously, she is a cherished asset of the MSU music faculty. Ms. Burgett holds degrees from Eastman, Peabody and Yale and has taken top prizes at the World Marimba Competition among other contests. If you’re intrigued, listen to our sample; the subtle musical touches and exquisite finesse of her playing will appeal well beyond any small circle of listeners.
To follow up her acclaimed debut CD “Marimba Suites: Gwendolyn Burgett plays her Transcriptions of Bach’s Cello Suites for Marimba”, award-winning percussionist records a CD of new music for marimba written for her by international array of composers.
1. Roshanne Etezady Boomslang 7:52
2. Douglas Fisk Impromptu 6:18
3. Judah Adashi Art and the Rain 9:35
4. Ryan Howard Ki no Uta 20:34
5. Alejandro Viñao Khan Variations 9:06
Marimba: Gwendolyn Burgett
Gwendolyn Burgett is associate professor of percussion at the Michigan State University College of Music. Passionate about educating the next generation of young musicians, she regularly gives master classes at universities throughout the United States and has been an instructor at the Interlochen Arts Camp since 2005.
For more information, please visit http://music.msu.edu/.
Composer: Roshanne Etezady
Etezady holds academic degrees from Northwestern University and Yale University, and she has worked intensively with numerous composers, including William Bolcom, Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty, and Ned Rorem. She completed her doctorate at the University of Michigan in March, 2005.
For more information, please visit www.roshanne.com.
Composer: Alejandro Viñao
Alejandro Viñao studied composition with the Russian composer Jacobo Ficher in Buenos Aires. In 1975 he moved to Britain where he continued his studies at the Royal College of Music and the City University in London. He has been resident in Britain since then. In 1988 he was awarded a PhD. D. in composition at the City University.
For more information, please visit www.vinao.com.
Composer: Judah E. Adashi
Said to be “embarked on a promising career” (Washington Post), composer Judah E. Adashi (b. 1975) has been honored with awards, grants and commissions from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the ASCAP and BMI Foundations, Meet the Composer, the American Composers Forum and the Aspen Music Festival, as well as three residencies at the Yaddo artist colony.
For more information, please visit www.judahadashi.com.
Composer: Douglas Fisk
Douglas Fisk is active as a composer, pianist, and teacher. He began compositional studies with Paul Barsom and Bruce Trinkley at Pennsylvania State University before pursuing graduate studies at Yale University, studying with Martin Bresnick and Ezra Laderman.
For more information, please visit http://liconservatory.net.
Composer: Ryan Howard