With Mallets Aforethought

Sticks, Picks and Brushes with Time


Pulses, rhythms, harmonies. Beating time. Our time. It’s a percussion event. Six players play six works from 1957 to this year plus Cuban folkloric numbers.

This event introduces you to two new members of the Omaha Symphony, Assistant Principal Percussionist Derek Dreier and Principal Timpanist Jack Rago.

Dreier’s first year here pairs with his own 2017’s “Snap Crackle,” not, as you might suppose, inspired by breakfast cereal but rather by the continuing crispness of legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes, to whom it’s dedicated. No surprise there; Dreier has had a substantial career in jazz circles.

He’s also the hombre behind the idea of presenting what may be a revelation: “Toque y Canto para Eleguá” a recreation of folkloric drumming from the Lucumí people of Cuba, descendants of the Yoruba of Nigeria. Derek studied and performed Batá drumming of Matanzas, Cuba and founded Bloomington, Indiana’s Latin Jazz Collective and was a member of the salsa band Vale Todos.  

Expect two compositions by Boston-born Steven Snowden.He’s writes acoustic and electro-acoustic pieces and gravitates to live electronic audio manipulation, aiming to deal with memory and recent history. As, here, in two-part “Long Distance.” The first part was inspired by a recording from an Atlanta pay phone that got a busy signal when dialing into a major call center. The second involves the need for an operator to place a call. Snowden cites as influence the  so-called “phone phreaks” of the late 1960s and early ’70s—computer hackers before computers existed. And Snowden’s “Left of the Dial” blends solo drumming with the sounds of electronic recordings of radio transmissions.

Alan Keown’s “Tink” uses small “found” instruments and spins off from “Table’s Clear by American composer Paul Lansky, using sounds of kitchen utensils played by children

“Pas de Quatre” by Sarah Wald  links to ballet, certainement. She notes that she feels kinship with   “ primitivist’ ballets of Stravinsky and Prokofiev and their “rhythmic complexity and dynamism.”calling attention to the “indissoluble relationship between dance and movement and percussion.”

More conventional sounding, in title at least, is the 1968 Trio for Percussion by William Kraft one of the major-crafters of such compositions

12 hands play, those of Derek Dreier, who assembled this collection, and of Matt Andreini, James Dreier (Derek’s dad), Spencer Jones, Jack Rago and Scott Shinbara.

As for the “Rhythm in Motion” part of the title, note that this takes place amid other kinds of wood beyond the drums, sticks etc. Parts of Kaneko’s “Kinetic” exhibit still stand. And move.

The beat goes on.

Step for Four: Rhythm in Motion is the Eko Nova concert, October 23 at Kaneko. 1111 Jones St.  7 p.m.Tickets: $15. www.omahachambermusic.org/concerts/eko-nova


Category: Music

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