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75/100: Yale Percussion Group celebrates Steve Reich and John Cage

January 31, 2012

Feb. 19th concert honors the birthdays of two composers of significant pieces for percussion

The Yale School of Music presents the celebrated Yale Percussion Group in 75/100, a concert celebrating the birthdays of Steve Reich and John Cage, on Sunday, February 19th.

The ensemble, directed by the acclaimed percussionist and Yale faculty member Robert van Sice, has been hailed as “truly extraordinary” by composer Steve Reich. Now the YPG returns the compliment by dedicating the first half of this concert to Reich’s music.

The concert opens with Reich’s Mallet Quartet (2009), for two marimbas and two vibraphones. A highlight will be Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, in a new arrangement for vibraphone, marimba, and tape. Svetoslav Stoyanov, a YSM alum, created the arrangement and is the player heard on the pre-recorded segments.

The first half will conclude with Reich’s Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ, a 1973 composition for glockenspiels, marimbas, metallophone, women’s voices, and organ. Reich, who turns 75 this year, describes the piece as “deal[ing] with two simultaneous interrelated rhythmic processes.”

The second half of the concert is devoted to the music of John Cage, who was born 100 years ago this year and died in 1992. His Third Construction, written in 1941, is for four percussionists who play a vast variety of Western and international instruments as well as ordinary items like tin cans and a conch shell. Other Cage pieces on the program include In a Landscape (1948), originally written for piano, and Amores (1943), for piano and three percussionists.

She Is Asleep is a piece in two parts; in Part I, four percussionists play twelve tom-toms, and Part II is for voice and prepared piano (“prepared” meaning that objects have been deliberately placed in the instrument to alter the sound). Child of Tree (1975) is inspired by the sound of cactus spines being plucked; in the score, Cage instructs the performer in a structured improviation on ten instruments made of plants. “This improvisation is the performance,” Cage wrote. The concert begins at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall at 470 College Street (corner of Wall Street). Admission is free. For more information, visit music.yale.edu or contact the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158.

About the Yale Percussion Group

Founded in 1997 by Robert van Sice, the Yale Percussion Group is composed of talented and dedicated young artists who have come from around the world for graduate study at the Yale School of Music. The YPG earned acclaim for its performances at Make Music New York’s Xenakis festival in Central Park last summer and two appearances last year in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. Members of the YPG have gone on to form the acclaimed quartet So  Percussion and to perform with Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Two, the Carnegie Hall Academy Ensemble, the Oslo Philharmonic, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Yale percussion students and graduates have recently won the Linz (Austria) International Marimba Competition and the Concert Artist Guild Competition.

For audio and video samples:
» www.vicfirth.com/artists/ypg.php

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