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Making music with friends

April 4, 2012

As I look back at all the performances I've been a part of in the last year, here are the typical sorts of things I've been doing.

- section percussion with an orchestra
- studio percussion with large ensemble
- solo marimba concerts
- mass drumline at the Super Bowl (What? You don't think that's typical? Okay, you're right.)

What I realize is that I tend to play with a large group of musicians or as a soloist. What's missing is chamber music. I have had (or made) very few opportunities to perform with a small group in the past year and a half, and recent events have helped me remember how much fun chamber music can be.

This Friday, April 6, begins a 5-week stint of several duo performances with percussionist Colin Hill. It's a project that has been in the works for quite some time now, so we are very excited to get it off the ground in just a couple of days. We have put together a pretty diverse and interesting program of music including some mallet duets, a drumming piece, a tambourine duet, and a very captivating piece built around wind chimes (with video).

One obstacle that has made me realize even more how great playing with another person can be is that Colin and I live three hours apart. Therefore, much of our preparation has been on our own and/or with a computer generated recording posing as a virtual duet partner.

And let me tell you, a MIDI recording (even if using quality sounds) is no substitute for a human being, especially an outstanding musician and performer like Colin Hill.

There's just something about the making collaborative art in real time that can't be matched. Communicating with another person through music is, while difficult to fully explain, quite satisfying. (Especially after practicing the music for so long without the other person.) The music comes to life. A new atmosphere is created, one of authenticity and vulnerability. And the excitement and energy that can build when feeding from each other's performance is simply different than when performing alone.

It's easy to forget the joys of chamber music when most of my time is spent in an orchestra, band, or on my own (all things I still enjoy). So it's been quite refreshing putting together this program with Colin.

Colin and I don't expect this Spring to be our only duo performances, and in fact, hope that it is only the beginning. So if you don't get a chance to see us in April or May, we hope to see you down the road.

 

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