Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2010 Rassies - Two Drummers

I. John Damberg, one of the finest music teachers in the Pacific Northwest, has succeeded me as Rasmuson Foundation music composition Fellow, with the 2010 cycle award. Here's a picture of him, playing at last year's Juneteenth celebrations in Anchorage.

According to the Foundation, "John will attend a number of music workshops in Brazilian and Afro-Cuban musical styles. For his upcoming CD, John will work collaboratively with Brazilian composer and pianist, Jovino Santos Neto."

John's dedication to his students at the University of Alaska Anchorage is as legendary as is his strictness with them, as he beats it into his students' minds (percussionists will understand the term "beats it") that UAA isn't a slacker school if you're contemplating learning from Prof. Damberg.

John commissioned my work, The Skies Are Weeping, for his percussion ensemble. So far we've only accomplished one movement, Dance for Tom Hurndall, with his great chamber group, the UAA Percussion Ensemble, but - who knows?

II. Just two weeks after he was awarded the prestigious Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, Alaska's foremost composer, John Luther Adams, has been the first composer to receive the Rasmuson Foundation's Distinguished Artist award. This is fitting, as so many Alaska artists who have inspired John in his sometimes lonely work here have also been awarded this honor, beginning with poet John Haines.

III. I've been trying to convince Eric Bleicher, my student and assistant, to learn John Luther Adams' Mathematics of Resonant Bodies. Eric is one of John Damberg's students. I don't know if anyone from Anchorage has ever performed music by JLA at UAA. Last fall, the Juneau-based Crosssound Festival performed JLA's Make Prayers to the Raven at UAA. It was well received. I've contemplated approaching the faculty about putting together a concert of JLA's music at UAA, but don't feel the support would be very strong. Too bad, because John's music is tremendously powerful.

Here's part of a performance of Mathematics of Resonant Bodies:

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