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Mantra Percussion

January 21, 2014

This past season was an exciting one for Mantra Percussion as we struck out West, East, and Northwest bringing our programming to new audiences further and further away from our New York home-base.

Last year could also be deemed the “year of the co-lab” as we worked with more composers, ensembles, and performers than ever before, expanding upon our mission to collaborate with visionary artists.

In mid-December we set up wood shop at BAM‘s new Fisher Hall for a weeklong residency and a three night run of Michael Gordon‘s ‘Timber”. The concerts were commended as a top ten classical performance for 2012 in both the New Yorker and TimeOut New York, and garnered great reviews in both the New York Times and the New Yorker.

In addition, we toured ‘Timber’ rigorously bringing the piece to: post-modern art haven, Mass MoCA, the beach-bound Carlsbad Music Festival, up and down the highways of the Southern California Coast, an “In-N-Out Burger” or two, the Pacific meets redwood meets snowcapped home of Vancouver New Music, and to the Neolithic monuments of Louth, Ireland for the Drogheda Arts Festival.

In the Springtime we found ourselves passing the proverbial rock to a handful of remixers for a ‘Timber’ throwdown for Ear-Heart Music at Roulette. We played timber as we always do, in the round, as composed… but this time our live signal was sent to Ian Williams from The Battles, electronics virtuoso Ikue Mori, experimental banjo pioneer Brandon Seabrook, and clarinetist genre-bender Jeremiah Cymerman for manipulation.

More collaborations followed as we commissioned three new works for our second annual 3-Nights series at Music@First. During 3-Nights Mantra chooses three composers to curate an evening of their own music. Each evening features one brand spankin’ new commissioned work.

Paula Matthusen lit up the first night with a stunning meld of sonic installation, human-interactive electronics, and actual fire. During the second night Daniel Wohl sculpted a no-break textural free flow that carried listeners from the heaviest of innovative sounds for percussion and electronics to the most delicate. There, Mantra was joined by the Mivos Quartet for Wohl’s new work ‘Progression’ for string quartet and five percussionists. The final concert featured an evening length expansion of the rock trio Zs (saxophone, guitar, drums) piece ‘Corps’ to include percussion sextet. ‘Corps’ is essentially an über controlled 60-minute crescendo with intermittent spastically triumphant improvisations from Zs and Mantra… cue drum set solo, driving guitar lick, enter 6 percussionists on Xenakis inspired setups.

But that wasn’t it… Two days at New Amsterdam’s Ecstatic Music Festival performing premieres by Susie Ibarra, Ryan Lott, Seth Olinsky, Steven Reker, and Greg Saunier. And finally the epic organizational feat: Cornelius Cardew‘s ‘The Great Learning’ for Make Music NY to cap off our most exciting year yet.

A special thanks to New Music USA for their support this past season. Great things to come. Visit www.mantrapercussion.org for information on our upcoming concerts. See you there!