Percussion Ensemble

Percussion Ensemble
"Nothing is Real"

The Williams College Department of Music presents the Williams Percussion Ensemble directed by Matthew Gold, on Saturday, April 27 at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall on the Williams campus. This free event is open to the public.

WiPE invites the audience to sit onstage with the ensemble for the concert Nothing is Real. – an intimate program of strange rituals and relentless grooves, in music for percussion with strings, winds, and keyboards. Percussionists tap flower pots and rice bowls, strike circular saw blades, and crumple plastic bags; string players bow miniature saws; and a piano is trapped inside a teapot. In the process WiPE explores the veiled and enigmatic with an immersion in volcanic waves of sound.

The program opens with Oscar Bettison’s Gauze Vespers, a work the composer describes as “a ritual viewed from an alien culture and seen from afar.” It is composed of a dizzying array of sounds including bowed vibraphone, whistling, plucked piano strings, and violins and cellos strummed like banjos. The evening ends with Lois V Vierk’s churning and rhythmically propulsive Red Shift IV for trumpet, electric guitar, cello, piano, synthesizer, and percussion. Vierk describes her work as having “the feeling of something of great mass and motion, far away, like a comet…accelerating toward us…until finally at great speed swooping down upon us, through us, and back out into the heavens.”

In between, WiPE’s core percussionists perform the first movement of Julia Wolfe’s driving and rhythmically intricate Dark Full Ride for hi-hats and cymbals, a work that explores the full range of shimmering colors, from delicate taps to barks and roars, found in these central instruments of the drum set. Next, Andrea Mazzariello’s Babybot asks the players to create their own tabletop instruments out of found objects including flower pots, tin cans, metal pipes, wood slats, and glass bottles. These are treated as drum kits, allowing morphing and shifting grooves to emerge throughout the piece. Dominic Donato’s Reuse, Recycle, Reduce makes more explicit use of found sounds in a work that explores the process of musical recycling. At the center of the program is Alvin Lucier’s mysterious Nothing is Real for piano, amplified teapot, and tape recorder. In this piece, fragments of “Strawberry Fields Forever” are played on a grand piano, captured, and played back from inside a teapot.

This program will run approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.

About Williams Percussion Ensemble
In programs featuring cutting-edge new music and important works of the twentieth-century, the Williams Percussion Ensemble (WiPE) surveys a vast terrain of sound and rhythm. The ensemble employs all manner of percussion instruments, found sounds, and electronics to create music that resonates across boundaries of genre and discipline. In addition to music for percussion alone, the group presents works for mixed ensembles and new and experimental music for other instruments, and often works directly with composers. The ensemble also collaborates with artists in diverse media in order to explore the connections between different types of sound, form, image, and movement.

About Matthew Gold
Matthew Gold is a percussion soloist and chamber musician who appears across the U.S. and internationally presenting concert programs, master classes, and lectures. Based in Williamstown, MA and New York City, he is a member of the Talea Ensemble and the Talujon percussion group. Mr. Gold is an Artist in Residence in Percussion and Contemporary Music Performance at Williams College where he directs the Williams Percussion Ensemble, I/O Ensemble, and the annual I/O Festival of New Music. He serves on the faculty of the Wellesley Composers Conference and the Institute and Festival for Contemporary Performance at Mannes College, and has been involved over many years in the Walden School summer music programs. Mr. Gold has appeared as a soloist with such ensembles as Sequitur, the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival, and the Orchestra of the League of Composers, has been a featured artist on recent festivals including the Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music, Le Festival Les Musiques in Marseille, and the Warsaw Autumn Festival, and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic on its “Philharmonic 360” program at the Park Avenue Armory. He also performs regularly with the Mark Morris Dance Group, the New York City Ballet, and the Albany Symphony.

“The Williams Percussion Ensemble stood under the warm May sun and sent sharp-edged, tightly organized rhythmic salutes into the Berkshire hills.”

—    The Boston Globe