The Magic Months of January and February 2008!

Greetings friends! And greetings, indeed, from London, where I have finally come to rest after a mesmeric few weeks in the USA. A terrificly exciting time, and a variety of great honours came my way via some delightful and often unique performance opportunities. It was also a great chance to sell and promote my new Dave Maric recital CD, so my thanks to the many who did step up with their hard-earned! These discs are usually available at my live events, but for anyone not able to make it along to one, the Onyx website is easy to use and copies can be ordered there(www.onyxclassics.com) Well – enough brazen commercialism!! On with some of my news…January started with the excellent, the witty; Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony, and an opportunity to re-visit the Chris Rouse concerto. Entitled “Der Gerettete Alberich”, I first learned this work in 1999, only the fourth concerto, and at that time certainly the trickiest piece, I’d ever learnt! It was great to have Chris along to these recent concerts, and it was a thrill to hear him discuss with such vehement passion his favourite US Presidents at 1am in a freezing parking lot! In such a way do post-concert dinners wind up. From Kansas City to Santa Barbara!! Truly a slice of paradise on earth; long runs by the ocean watching the sun come up, al fresco meals and the occasional hunt for missing Crotales(!) peppered my various rehearsals and concerts. Huge thanks and respect to the Santa Barbara Symphony! They put together an outstanding and stylistically varied “1st International Percussion Festival”, and as I said at the closing reception, to me it felt like “Christmas every day for a week!” I’m particularly proud to have met there some of the most outstanding orchestral players in the country, Perry, Mike, Will and John will remain I trust great friends in the business – a friendship formed over an incredibly amusing set of rehearsals for amongst other things “Sharpened Stick”, a work that no matter what only ever reached critical mass at a certain high tempo!! Lots and lots of fun. Then my concerts with the orchestra allowed me the sumptuous indulgence of performing Dave Maric’s “Trilogy” alongside the Higdon concerto. I’m very happy to say that the natives seemed to gobble it all up, and I thoroughly enjoyed pairing these two works, something I’d be keen to repeat. Special “Thanks-ness!” to Miwa Gofuku, who patiently and brilliantly put the whole week together! Yay!

A fun re-visit to Long Beach Symphony was followed by a recital in San Francisco – and my 4th programme in as many weeks! A challenge for me certainly, but Hakan Hardenberger was on STAGGERING form, and we had our strongest concert to date. An excellent audience was there for us at “San Francisco Performances” and my thanks to them for making my debut in that city so memorable. I then had chosen to travel home for 3 days, for some rest and practice before Baltimore and the US premiere of Steve Mackey’s “Time Release”. Truly a set of concerts I had long been warming up for, these performances were to take the most technically demanding and most sustained work in my repertoire to Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as the concerts in Baltimore (taken for XFM national radio) and a final show in Long Island. I’m especially impressed with Steve’s amazing writing here – a highly ambitious and engaging work, it is the perfect “Anti-percussion concerto”, in the sense of its intimacy, understatement and inner beauty. The Baltimore orchestra sounded amazing – and they relished the colours and passions of the new piece. My great friend Marin Alsop was her usual steady, hip, and reliable self, allowing me all the comfort and freedom I need to go about tackling such a mental work-out…and as for Carnegie hall!! Well – the acoustic was just astonishing!!!! The marimba sounded absolutely glorious on-stage, and I think Ron Samuals from MarimbaOne was quite flabbergasted by how special the new instrument he had made for the occasion sounded! It was a terrific concert experience for me, and I was delighted by the audience reaction.

Otherwise, I’m thinking ahead to a very involved Spring…the UK premiere of Nyman’s marimba concerto,  a trip to Kuala Lumpur to perform one of my favourite ever percussion works (“Ruby” by Joe Duddell) and in May the world premiere of Simon Holt’s concerto “A Table of Noises” all should add up for a rich and varied time of it!! Shorter-term, I have a thai curry to perfect this evening…!

Best wishes and thanks for stopping by,

Colin.

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