Articles and Interviews

Time in the Rock – Travails of a Composer

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Tragedy. “A drama typically involving a person destined to experience downfall or destruction, as through a character flaw, or conflict with some overpowering force such as fate or an unyielding society.” Hubris. “An extreme and unreasonable feeling of self-confidence.” Posthumous. “Published after the death of the author.” In May of 2001 I began work on… Read more »

The Solo Snare Drum: Bob’s interview with Jonathan Curtis

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  In September 2020 I was invited by British percussionist Jonathan Curtis to take part in his snare drum research project. Details about his work can be viewed HERE. Jonathan was particularly interested in some of the ideas in my book Rudimental Arithmetic, as well as more generally about composing music for solo snare drum…. Read more »

Requiem is Released

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NEXUS with the TorQ Percussion Quartet with Special Guest vocalists Lindsay Kesselman and Cory Knight

Zwilich talks about writing “Rituals” for NEXUS

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In honour of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich birthday, here is an interview where she shares her thoughts on writing this concerto Rituals for NEXUS. Frank Oteri at New Music Box calls the interview Goose Bumps In The Candy Shop. Ellen has some intriguing comments about percussion instruments and their intrinsic nature: FJO: My favorite piece of… Read more »

PAS Rhythm/Scene covers our busy spring!

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Thanks to Lauren Vogel Weiss for her article on our busy spring in the PAS Rhythm/Scene newsletter, June issue. She covered our performance with guest Frank Cassara with the Northern Dutchess Symphony Orchestra at the Culinary Institute of American under the baton of Kathleen Beckman; our Princeton University appearance with SōPercussion celebrating Steve Reich with… Read more »

Great review of our Maverick Hall concert

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We received a great review of our Maverick Hall concert, from the Boston Musical Intelligencer, “a virtual journal and essential blog of the classical music scene in greater Boston”.  Here are a few excerpts from Leslie Gerber’s review: “These virtuosi handled the difficult score with confidence and verve…”

Bob’s interview with Greg Giannascoli

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In 2016 I received a request from marimbist Greg Giannascoli to answer a series of questions for an upcoming publication. Greg’s questions and my answers are below. GG: Hi Bob, I am writing a book with a series of interviews with the important marimba and xylophone artists of the 20th century and I would be… Read more »

Surviving Steel Pans – A Saga (Part 2)

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In 1993 two major composers – Michael Colgrass and Bruce Mather  – began work on commissions for NEXUS. Mather, an intimate friend of Robin Engelman, had already composed two quartet pieces for us: Clos de Vougeot (recorded on the LP Changes in 1982) and Clos d’Audignac (recorded on the CD Rune in 1997). The new… Read more »

Surviving Steel Pans – A Saga (Part 1)

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In 1989 Carnegie Hall announced a series of commissions to celebrate the hall’s 100th anniversary season in 1990/91. A former member of our management team, Costa Pilavachi, recommended NEXUS be the featured soloists in a new piece by Toru Takemitsu, to be premiered with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa. A concerto by Takemitsu… Read more »

The (Art?) of Hanging Gongs

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Further to emailed inquiries on the subjects of percussion performance and instruments, one recent inquiry was seeking advice about support structures for gongs. This topic is right up my alley. I’ve always had a fascination with pitched gongs and unpitched tam-tams, probably inspired by John Wyre, a colleague in NEXUS until his passing in 2006…. Read more »

Suspended Cymbal Mallets

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In response to my recent posts about the cymbal parts for La Mer and Daphnis and Chloé I received some comments and questions regarding the mallets I use on suspended cymbals. As I pointed out in my blogs, early 20th century composers often employed specific terminology regarding striking implements in their cymbal parts – for… Read more »

Becker Bow Cymbal Demo

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Last spring (February, 2016) I spent several days in Meductic, NB working on some projects for the Sabian Cymbal Company. My main job was to select and mate 60 pairs of 18 inch Artisan Traditional Medium Light Crash orchestral cymbals. It was some of the most physically demanding work I’ve done in my life, and… Read more »

Daphnis and Chloé and Cymbals

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Last week (on June 2nd and 3rd, 2016) the Toronto Symphony performed the complete music from Maurice Ravel’s ballet Daphnis and Chloé (1912). I was invited to play cymbals, which have an extensive individual part that is twelve pages long – something unusual in the symphonic percussion repertoire. I was familiar with the second suite… Read more »

Some reflections on John Cage

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In response to the request on NEXUS’ Facebook, here are a few more John Cage recollections.   In June, 1984 NEXUS embarked on a major European tour lasting over two months. Our first stop on the trip was Amsterdam and the Holland Festival. We played two concerts there, including a monumental all-night improvisation in the… Read more »

Andrew Feldman – An Appreciation

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I first met Andrew Feldman at PASIC in 1981. For several years beginning in the late 1970s he manned a small booth at the conventions, and advertised his sticks and mallets in the classifieds at the back of Percussive Notes. I bought a number of bass drum beaters and tam tam mallets from his display… Read more »

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