Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Marimba Trio void...Call to composers!


In directing the Heartland Marimba Festival I am always excited to explore new repertoire for marimba ensemble. This winter and spring I was very much looking forward to a project to premiere Alex Orfaly's Fôr Marimbas, a quartet in three movements. I've been extremely anxious to do this piece since recording his Tanc Szervusz for two xylophones and five percussionists with the Iowa State University Percussion Ensemble in early 2015. His music combines the best of all worlds for me: ultra-contemporary, folk music, contrapuntal and whacky scales, individualistic tonality, and rhythmic/metric, adventurous harmony!

The project focus was to take a slightly different approach to preparing for the HMF summer touring efforts. I was going to rehearse with three doctoral students from the University of Iowa once or twice a month from January until May and then we would be solid and ready to go for the premiere in the summer. I was even thinking of adding another 'big quartet work' to our plan, so we would have two larger pieces up and running in advance of rehearsals for the rest of the show in May. However, I am only able to secure two other players for this project, so we are going forward as a trio.

Finding marimba trio repertoire is particularly difficult. Quartets are abundant. And so are duos. But I found out two years ago that trios are tricky to find. In 2014, I purchased Rüdiger Pawassar's Sculpture 3 and Rich O'Meara's Puzzle Piece for the HMF Academy at ISU. We ended up doing a quintet by Anthony DiBartolo called Music for Five Marimbas that summer and performed Sculpture 3 in 2015 on tour. Now I'm in search of 'big rep' trio pieces again for our tour in 2016. This project serves to not only prepare in advance a good portion of our program for the summer touring concerts, but also to highlight our efforts in collaborating with up and coming performers, and to really dig in and experience prepping a work to its fullest potential over a comfortable amount of time. 

So I'm putting out an official call to composers for new marimba trio repertoire. We need pieces for this combination. The duo and quartet are really attractive, but I would argue, to me at least, that the trio and quintet are actually more attractive. Choreographers say it all the time. They prefer an odd number of bodies over a predictable even number any day. I received many great and attractive trios from a message I posted on facebook (list below), but I think we need an abundant and overwhelming amount to really find the true character of this combination. My one request is that young composers will explore something other than minimalism in their new pieces; this includes any pop music systems or references. Develop a tonality that only you know how it works. Come up with 'insane' chord progressions and 'wonky' melodies and write entire pieces based on these ideas. Try to create a whole work or movement from three, five, or seven notes. For percussionist, rhythm and feel is very important. I would ask that for percussionist/composers make harmony, development, and melody just as important. I once was a part of a concert in Germany that was full of percussion pieces of all types (solos, ensemble, electronic, etc.) and I performed four solo, modern fugues. An audience member came up to me afterward to thank me for being the only one that performed a melody that anyone could follow the entire evening.

Marimba Trios (as of 1/20/16):
Bill Alves - Gandrung
Claude Debussy/Arr. by Chain Trio - Menuet from Suite Bergamasque
Mark Ford - Stubernic and Afta-Stuba
Robert Honstein - Patter
Jo KondoA Volcano Mouth
Jo Kondo - Luster Gave Her the Hat and He & Ben Went Across the Backyard 
Daniel Koontz - Muybridge Cycles
Robert Kreutz - Western Sketches
Michael Neumeyer - Drive
Brian Nozny - The Atmos Clock 
Rich O'Meara - Puzzle Piece
Rüdiger Pawassar - Sculpture 3
Brian Pfeifer - Still Water (2 marimbas and vibraphone)
James Romig - Out of Frame
Mateusz Ryczek - Seven Knocks
Adam Silverman - The Cruel Waters 
Ivan Trevnio - Open Your Eyes 
Eric Zak - Chasing the Caribou
  Update on 1/14/16: The list keeps growing. This is really wonderful! I had forgotten about the Fujii Family Trio...I did see them perform at PASIC in 2009. I haven't included much of their repertoire above, but have attached the article written by Alan Zimmerman about the Fujii Family from the September 2009 Percussive Notes Publication below as an image. And if you are a PAS member be sure to check out The Fujii Database of Japanese Marimba Works under resources, and you can download a pdf of the article below.

That's a pretty good list so far. Before yesterday I could name two. I've listened to all of these pieces and I applaud all of them. They are definitely in the running for future performances with the Heartland Marimba Festival! I particularly love the efforts of the Chain Trio from Europe. Their repertoire is pushing forward and exploring the uncharted for this combination, and I don't believe I've heard them perform a minimal piece yet. To all composers, please keep writing for marimba, particularly trios. Keep creating, exploring, and developing, and keep it brand new!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A press release from 2011!

Contact: Matthew Coley
Phone: 847-867-1467


Matthew Coley, Percussion Soloist and Collaborator, didn't stop for a minute in 2011!

Iowa State University Lecturer in Percussion and Southwest Virginia native, Matthew Coley, has had an active 2011 with concerts all over the Midwest, Utah, and Europe. He also worked to release his second solo album, SOUVENIRS, at the top of 2012.

Beginning the year in 2011, Matthew was awarded a grant from the Iowa Arts Council to record a piece of music that was written for him by his longtime friend and collaborator, Bjorn Berkhout. Bjorn is a composer working in New York City and wrote "Running Towards Empty" for Matthew and his percussion ensemble at Iowa State University in 2010. Cory Hills, Matthew's Percussion Duo partner came to Iowa from Kansas to record "Running on Empty" with some members of the ISU Percussion Ensemble in January for the CD, SOUVENIRS. Also in January, Matthew and the ISU Percussion Ensemble performed for the crowd at the Octagon Center for the Arts Annual Opening Reception for their January National Exhibit.     

In February Matthew visited St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota to perform on their First Monday Electronic Music Series. In addition to collaborating with and performing music by SCSU professor, Scott Miller, he gave the first performance ever on a 4-octave bowed psaltery. This instrument was made for Matthew by James Jones, an instrument maker in Matthew's hometown, Bedford, VA. Also during February, he gave his second performance of John Mackey's "Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra" with the Chicago Metropolitan Orchestra, Russell Vinick, conductor.

In March, Matthew visited the University of Northern Iowa for a concert and master class, and performed a concert with the ISU Faculty Chamber Ensemble, BURN UNIT, in Martha Ellen-Tye Recital Hall, and was the featured marimba soloist at the Nebraska Day of Percussion. During this event the Omaha Percussion Ensemble perform Matthew's composition, "Journey for Solo Marimba, Piano, and Percussion Ensemble", at the evening concert.

During the summer, Matthew collaborated with local choreographer, Valerie Williams, on the glass music, dance, and video production, CLEARLY. They inhabited a store space with the CLEARLY exhibit in the North Grand Mall in Ames for rehearsals and community events/performances, and performed as a featured group at the Des Moines Arts Festival. ISU faculty, Keith Kutz and other glassblowers from the ISU Gaffer's Guild created several of the pieces for CLEARLY, as well as creative contributions from windchime maker, Nathan Ratliff, and artist, Hiromi Okumura. Soon after this, Matthew collaborated with Valerie for the second summer on her Kids' Co'Motion dance program, where he compiled, composed, and created all of the music for the three performances at the end of the three-week workshop.  

In August, Matthew was then a featured soloist on the Hungarian cimbalom and hammer dulcimer at the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival in Waterloo, IA, directed by Hunter Capaccioni. To wrap up the summer he traveled to Denmark to collaborate with percussionist, Ronni Kot Wenzell and publisher, Johan Svitzer on a Duo Percussion tour of Edition Svitzer publications. Matthew and Ronni performed in Odense, Aalborg, Humble, and Copenhagen, Denmark and Pitea, Sweden. While in Copenhagen they recorded a TV broadcast that was aired six times in September throughout Denmark.

In September, Matthew was very excited to be featured with the ISU Symphony Orchestra for his third performance of John Mackey's "Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra", Jacob Harrison, conductor. Matthew then traveled to Provo, Utah in October to perform a solo concert, begin a recording collaboration with composer, Neil Thornock, and present a lecture on contemporary music for the hammer dulcimer at Brigham Young University. Dr. Neil Thornock has written two pieces of music for Matthew, "Dulci" for solo hammer dulcimer, and "RIng the Heavens" for carillon and percussion ensemble.

Following this, Ronni Kot Wenzell and Johan Svitzer visited the US to continue their 2011 collaboration. Matthew and Ronni conducted master classes and performed concerts throughout the Midwest at Ballard High School, Huxley, IA; Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines, IA; ISU; Southeast Missouri State University; Jackson High School, Jackson, MS; Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis; and Millikin University, Decatur, IL. They finished up their tour with presentations and networking at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, IN, and then traveled back to Ames with Danish composer, Andy Pape, to record the piece he was commissioned to write for the Duo Tour, "Five by Five".

Matthew finished up the year performing another CLEARLY installation with Valerie Williams at the Brunnier Art Gallery at ISU in December and sold his 5-octave Marimba One marimba of 8 years to West Marshall High School in preparation to get a new 5.5-octave marimba from sponsoring company, Marimba One. For a chance to catch this new 5.5-octave marimba in action, Matthew has a full concert schedule in late March and April of 2012, including a concert tour between UNI, ISU, and Drake with music faculty from those schools.

After the wide success of his first solo album, CIRCULARITY, in late 2010, Matthew eagerly anticipates the release of SOUVENIRS in early 2012. Here is what Jason Baker (MIssissippi State University Assisstant Professor of Percussion) had to say about CIRCULARITY in the September 2011 Percussive Notes Publication: “I found this CD to be one of the most enjoyable marimba recordings in recent memory due to its exciting repertoire, world-class performing, and extremely high production quality.” Both CD's were engineered by ISU faculty, Chad Jacobsen.

In addition to a wide traveling and performing schedule, Matthew most notably enjoys his time working and performing with the ISU Percussion Studio and Percussion Ensemble. The Percussion Ensemble at ISU performs a concert twice a semester. For upcoming events, CD's, and more information on Matthew or the ISU Percussion Studio please visit

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weird Premieres

The first half of 2014 is proving to be particularly ripe with several "out of the ordinary" premieres. It started with plans, preparations, and all the necessary fixin's for a concert in February that was the premiere of the 2 flutes, 4 marimbas, 2 glockenspiels, and narrator version of Debussy's Bilitis, as well as Dexter Morrill's Fantasy for piccolo and percussion ensemble. The Iowa State University Percussion Ensemble was all poised to perform with the fabulous flutists, Scott Metlicka and Sonja Giles and then school was actually canceled! In a place where life doesn't skip a beat for 12 inches, even 16 inches of snow, we for real had a blizzard that closed school and canceled that concert. With schedules wedged together throughout the spring no future date could be set to make that concert happen, however some little bits of ideas have been forming to program the Debussy at the first Heartland Marimba Festival & Workshop this summer at ISU with 2 vibraphones, 4 marimbas, 2 glockenspiels, and narrator. In advance of the careless blizzard, Scott and I did get to premiere my composition Morning of Life for flute and marimba at other concerts in Iowa.

March and April are the "money" months, so to speak. On a 4,000 mile (that's 6,500+ kilometers) trip to Minot, ND and Edmonton and Regina, Canada I performed (so not actually a premiere) Neil Thornock's Illumination for solo chimes. Neil is the composer that has written me a carillon and percussion ensemble piece and a dulcimer solo. Some may not be surprised that he had composed a chime solo some years back, but I was extremely excited to be able to program a chime solo! I have just remembered that I neglected to mention Bjorn Berkhout's solo dulcimer work Torque that I premiered in January at ISU, which I also performed three times on the Canada tour. This "Great Tour of the Upper Prairie-lands" came about because of a fortunate rekindling of a friendship on Facebook. Angela Schroeder and I were at Northwestern University doing our Master's degrees together back in 2003 and she invited me to perform the Canadian premiere of Andrew Ardizzoia's Glass House Concerto for percussion soloist and wind ensemble with her ensemble at the University of Alberta-Edmonton.

Next up is the premiere of Steven Simpson's Images of Africa for dulcimer and six percussionists with the University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble, Daniel Moore, director. The very next day is the premiere of Igor Iachimciuc's Rustic Sketches for Marimba and Contrabass Ensemble with the Chicago Bass Ensemble (Jacque Harper, director) and Leslie B. Dunner conducting. Both of these compositions I hope to perform many more times, and the process with the composers, directors, and ensembles has been added to the top of the list of great collaborations!

So far we have just covered January through March. April will bring the premieres of solo marimba works by Igor Iachimciuc and Neil Thornock. Respectively, Through flowers (Iachimciuc) and Fanfares and Quantasy (Thornock) will be premiered at the Wyoming Day of Percussion at Casper College and the University of Utah.

Taking some time to write this timeline of events puts many things in perspective. These projects and collaborations are something to be forever cherished and considered in the class of living dreams. The fortune contained in these experiences is too great to funnel into words, but I hope that many artists will be inspired to tackle the lot of their creative fancies and bring together more unheard-of collaborations.

A big thank you to Bjorn Berkhout, Scott Metlicka, Sonja, Giles, Neil Thornock, Angela Schroeder, Andrew Ardizzoia, Dexter Morrill, Jacque Harper, Chicago Bass Ensemble, Leslie B. Dunner, Daniel Moore, the University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble, Steven Simpson, and Igor Iachimciuc!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Westward bound. Thoughts about pertinent things. New Horizons (Projects).

I was going to start this post differently, but then I had a hankering for some pizza (travel food) and had an experience I wanted to share. I have stopped in Ogallala, NE (somewhere way out 80) on my way west to San Diego and found a Valentino's Pizza for dinner. Normally this kind of joint would not be on my short list for places to have dinner but I am in the middle of NE and I wanted pizza. I walked into the Take Out door and voila I was in the kitchen! I mean, there was a "half-door" between me and the dishwashing station, but I didn't notice it at first, just saw piles of dirty dishes and sweaty workers. "Hi, I would like some pizza to go." "Oh, ok, here's a box and just come through here to the buffet." The dining room had the appropriate dim lighting and putrid stench, and people intently tasting every pizza. So, for $11+ I got my 6 small slices, and then said, "Oh, I guess I should have gotten the buffet for $10 then...?" She said, "Yep."

I'm west bound for the eventual destination of San Diego. Today I stopped in Ogallala, NE and tomorrow I will visit Arches National Park and stay in Moab, UT. Finally reaching Cedar City, UT to visit percussionist Lynn Vartan. Lynn and I are getting started on our new Solstice repertoire for our first Chicago season in December. For a couple days we will dig into new duo percussion music that will be performed at Links Hall in Chicago and then in LA in April 2014. Lynn and I believe that as a duo we have what every musician searches for in a collaborating chamber setting, the complete connection. We played together on a few concerts in Iowa last February, you can read about that tour in my last blog post, and we were hooked! It was kismet immediately. If you are a chamber musician and have performed with many other musicians you know what I mean. It is not everyday that a musician can find these collaborators and Lynn and I both have worked with several collaborators.

Many, many of the artists we have both collaborated with have been cherished and worthwhile experiences, and we will likely collaborate with them again, we love collaborating and projects! But when you find that certain artist that "clicks" in many ways other than just their playing, it's rare. Being in a new chamber group also requires commitment to booking, promotion, advertising, commissioning, funding, scheduling, etc. And most of the time those are the areas that one person ends up doing all themselves and most of the time that is a recipe for the groups eventual disbandment.

From Cedar City I will travel to San Diego to see my boyfriend, Korey, and play timpani in the orchestra for his opera summer program, Opera Neo; and see my percussion friend, Cory; my sister, Sarah will also visit; and I will likely meet with some other composers and artists during the month long stay.

Coming up in September is a chance to hear my newest composition for percussion duo, Maneuveresque. Written for Matthew Andreini and Gabor Palotas for their Iowa/Hungary Percussion Project. They commissioned 6 composers; 3 Iowan and 3 Hungarian, to write new duos. They premiered the duos in Hungary (dates and places on my website) in June and July with success and on September 4 they will perform their program at Iowa State University! This project is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit in the percussion world and I was super happy to be asked to write a new piece for it. They have raised money through crowd-funding, as well as from concert fees. And after just meeting with Matt coming off of his 2 month stint in Hungary he said the reaction to the music was extremely pleasing and the most remarkable thing was that the 6 pieces have 6 distinct, individual characters. Keep and eye out for recordings and published scores.

In later September I will be performing 2 concerts, one at ISU and another at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The ISU concert will feature some music on cimbalom with Boro Martinec and Mei-Hsuan Huang, violin and piano colleagues respectively at ISU. Also, I will premiere a new marimba work by Jeffrey Holmes, Nereus Sonata. Likely one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, marimba solos I've seen. It's a jam packed solo of cascading figures, active, big and wide harmonies, and my favorite part, a slithering and off-kilter but sexy fugue. If all goes as planned (with practicing in the sunny town of San Diego) I will also meet with the composer while in CA, as he lives in LA. The ISU concert on September 18 will be live webcast so you can see the world premiere live in real-time here:

Back on the road! Ogallala, NE

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Partial Summation of Spring 2013...

Below you will find a very partial summation of some of the new professional experiences and exquisite collaborations I had during the Winter/Spring semester of 2013. This time of this year was amazingly productive, now that I can take a step back and reflect, with finishing a 200-page dissertation and graduating with a DM from Northwestern University and accomplishing what you will read below!

February, 2013

Matthew Coley visited the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA last February for a week long residency to perform Andrew Ardizzoia's "Glass House Concerto" with the wind ensemble conducted by Gerard Morris. Andrew and Matthew began collaborating on GHC in 2010, and did a partial premiere with Iowa State University's Wind Ensemble, Michael Golemo, conductor in April of 2012. The full premiere of four movements with two solo stone xylophone interludes, almost totally 40 minutes of music, was done with the UPS Wind Ensemble, and can be watched on YouTube by searching the title and composer or soloist. While in Tacoma Matthew and Andrew also held a variety of master classes and lectures. Matthew gave a master class to percussion students and Andrew worked with conducting and composition students. Together they gave lectures in the business school on collaboration and music business.

The concerto came about by several coincidental forces in the collaboration. The first being, Matthew heard Andrew's orchestral piece, "*Some Assembly Required", premiered by the ISU Symphony in 2010 and had been working on a glass project, "CLEARLY", with Co'Motion Dance Theatre at the time as well. Through other concerti, commissioning projects, and collaborations, Matthew had assembled a large collection of consorts of odd percussion instruments; i.e. glass gongs, temple blocks and woodblocks, glass and stone xylophone, and tuned bottles, and had in mind a concerto featuring these collections of instruments. Soon after Matthew approached Andrew about the concerto, Andrew happened to visit the Philip Johnson "Glass House" in New Canaan, CT, which exhibits stark juxtapositions of glass, metal, wood, and stone all over the property. Thus the concerto was born, and the soloist performs on only glass, metal, wood, and stone instruments inside a cage. Future performances and a recording are in the works.

Upon returning from Tacoma Matthew jumped into collaborations with percussionist and duo partner, Lynn Vartan. Lynn visited Iowa State University to perform with the percussion ensemble and teach a master class. Lynn, Matthew, and the ISU Percussion Ensemble performed a joint concert at ISU in late February. Lynn and Matthew's duo, Solstice, then went on tour and performed concerts and master classes at the University of Northern Iowa (Randy Hogancamp and Matt Andreini, hosts) and the University of Iowa (Dan Moore, host). Solstice will be performing in Chicago and LA during their 2013-2014 season.

April 2013

On April 5 and 6, Matthew Coley hosted the 2013 Iowa Day of Percussion at Iowa State University! The event brought in guest artists from Texas, California, North Dakota, and Arizona, as well as students and other professional percussionists from all over Iowa, and was sponsored by the Iowa Arts Council, ISU, and the Percussive Arts Society.

The Crossing 32nd Street ensemble performed a concert with students, Matthew, and guest artist Cory Hills on April 5.

April 6 kicked off with FUNdamental clinics by snare drummer Brian Nozny, who had also taught a master class at ISU on April 4, and timpanist Jacob Theiben.

During the morning sessions of April 6 Marshalltown High School Percussion Ensemble received a two-hour clinic with Iowa Percussion Group artists Matt Andreini, Dan Krumm, and Stan Dahl. The High School and Collegiate Competitions were held, and Ames High School student Grant Simmons and ISU student Ryan Pearson won!

Crossing 32nd Street held a master class on their repertoire including a demo of Steve Reich's "Drumming" with ISU students, Matthew, and Cory Hills.

Guest Artist Jamal Mohamed held a master class on hand drums and world music in the afternoon with a preview of the evening concert to come.

The afternoon and evening of April 6 was a tour de force of performances. The Recital Hall at ISU had music performed constantly for about 7.5 hours!

Organist Lynda Hakken began the afternoon with a concert featuring the Iowa Percussion Group on Lou Harrison's Concerto for Organ and Percussion Orchestra.

Following that the Iowa Percussion Group rehearsed Gary Ziek's "Concerto for Solo Percussion and Percussion Ensemble" with the Collegiate Competition Winner, Ryan Pearson.

The Collegiate Percussion Ensemble Showcase Concert then took place with performances by: University of Northern Iowa, Central College, Iowa State University, Davenport North High School, and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The evening concert was an awesome array of performances by guest artists, including Jamal Mohamed, Cory Hills, Iowa Percussion Group, and Crossing 32nd Street, as well as competitions winners and other students.

Pictured below is Jamal Mohamed with Matthew, John Kizilarmut, Mike Giles, Stan Dahl, Cory Hills, and Brian Nozny (photo by Robin Doty). The evening concluded with a FULL performance of Steve Reich's "Drumming"!

Arthur Lipner visited ISU for a week at the end of April and performed with the Jazz Bands,
Percussion Ensemble, and Jazz Combos. He also taught private lessons and a master class with ISU percussionists and presented his documentary Talking Sticks to the music school. 

The Percussion Ensemble performed his composition "Mallet Fantasia", a concerto for vibraphone and marimba soloist with percussion ensemble and choir. The Ames Children's Choir, Gene LeVasseur, director, were also guest performers on April 24.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Super-duper Independent Artist Feature 2

Composer, Steven Ricks
CD: Mild Violence

I'm excited to write the second installment of the "Super-duper Independent Artist" feature I recently added to my monthly e-letters. In August 2012 I would like to present composer, Steven Ricks. If you read the first feature of this kind you may notice that I featured the composer, Neil Thornock, from Brigham Young University, and Steven Ricks also happens to be from BYU.

I met Steve on a trip for which I was performing some of Neil's music. Steve actually conducted the performance of Steve Mackey's "Micro-Concerto" I did with the BYU New Music Ensemble. He is an excellent guy, enthusiastic through and through about new projects, a modern composer with a unique and resonating voice, and a mover and shaker. His latest CD is Mild Violence; a mixture of contemporary chamber and solo pieces with electronics. After releasing my second album, "Souvenirs", with an alternation of solo tracks and chamber tracks, I am tending to be drawn to CD's that cover vast territories and varieties of repertoire, especially in contemporary music, and Steve's does just that.

I was drawn mainly to the title track, "Mild Violence", a Pierrot quintet plus percussion piece, that starts in a curious way much akin to tinkering with the percussion set-up, and then goes on to evoke fascinating punches of composers, Lee Hyla and Steve Mackey, but only to be smashed out by none other than Steven Ricks. The title refers to the clinical label for videogames alerting about "cartoonish malice", but also the piece can tend to delve more into the realistic malice of humanity.

As most things seem to fall, in a serendipitous way, once I had settled on a topic for my dissertation; "Pierrot Plus Percussion; A Trend Shaping Contemporary Chamber Music, Composition, and Percussion Repertoire", all roads led back to Steve and Mild Violence. And another coincidence being that he conducted my last performance of Mackey's "Micro-Concerto" in October 2011, which is also a Pierrot plus percussion piece.

"American Dreamscape" is the third track for alto saxophone, piano, percussion, contrabass, and electronics, and opens suggesting "uncontrolled kinetic motion--a runaway train, or perhaps a runaway tape reel, spinning faster and faster until it melts onto the tape head." A cosmic exploration of texture at times, and the chaos of a city club strip at others. Track 5, "Beyond the Zero" for solo violin and electronics got my blood boiling the a good way. A very suggestive piece for real violence in war and the world, the interaction between the acoustic and electronic players creates a wonderfully crafted spectral malaise.

I highly recommend checking out this disc for new music connoisseurs, percussionists, and everyone interested in the path of contemporary music.

Visit Steve's awesome webpage here!

Percussion Contributions of Marcin Błażewicz

I feel that many aspects of my career have been charmed. One being the numerous composers I get to collaborate and interact with. I met Marcin Błażewicz in Stuttgart, Germany as I was going onstage to perform his "Concerto Rustico" for the final round of the Stuttgart World Marimba Competition. He was very appreciative of the performance I gave and we began a cherished friendship. I stayed in touch with him through that year and then brought him to Chicago to see me do the US (Chicago) premiere of the same concerto and then record it for my first solo album "Circularity". The next stone in our path together was the duo he composed for me and Ronni Kot Wenzell to premiere on tour in Denmark, Sweden, and later the Midwest. I then saw him again in 2011 in Aalborg, Denmark for the premiere of "Piece for Two Marimbas". I have also recorded his marimba solo, "Sonata for Marimba" on my second album. Nonetheless, it has been a top-rated friendship between two creative people.

As Marcin is very well-known in Poland for his accomplishments as a composer, I feel that that renown does not carry beyond to other parts of the world as it should. I hope that this post will help percussionists worldwide become aware of exquisite contributions Marcin has made to the breadth of quality music we have available. Most of the pieces listed can be found at Edition Svitzer ( or Schott Music.

Compositions for percussion:
Arista, Death Omen; for solo percussion and live electronic (1988)
AS; for harp, solo percussion and live electronic (1992)
Kundalini; for 6 percussions and live electronic (1997)
Sahay Manush; for 2 percussions (2005)
Sonata for Marimba (2009)
Second Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra (2005)
Concerto Rustico for marimba and string orchestra (2007)
Piece for Two Marimbas (2011)

And of course Marcin has composer an amazing amount of music for other instruments. The last 5 pieces on the list above can be found on recordings by myself, Mark Ford, or Marta Klimisara.

Marcin Błażewicz – a composer and teacher, born in 1953 in Warsaw. He  started his music education at the age of thirteen. His first compositions come into being then.In between 1974 and 1975, he studied philosophy. In 1982, he graduated with honors from the composition class under Professor Marian Borkowski at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music, in Warsaw (currently the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music). In 1983, he published a proclamation of  his critical attitude to the cultural policy of the Polish authorities and artists’ associations. The composes voices his critical attitude even currently, stating that the system transformation has not altered anything for Polish musicians. Since that time his compositions have been performed more frequently abroad than in Poland. In 1985, he participated in the Iannis Xenakis composition courses and in 1987 being an SACEM grant holder – in the Oliver Messiaen courses.In between 1983 and 1987, Marcin Błażewicz was the artistic director of the independent International Forum of  New Music, which was created by him and a handful of his friends. Since 1985 he has been employed at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music, in Warsaw, where he has had composition and instrumentation classes since 2004.