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My debut album Memory Palace brings to life five percussion pieces written by some of today’s most unique and exciting young composers that I’ve commissioned over the past several years.
I’m partnering with VIA Records, the record label of VisionIntoArt (VIA) to release this album. VIA is the in-house production company of National Sawdust. VIA specializes in multimedia releases, and my record will include two video accompaniments to the audio.
The title track, Memory Palace by Christopher Cerrone, is a testament to important places and people in Cerrone’s life, inspired by the ancient technique of memorization. This technique requires one to place mental signposts in an imaginary location and ‘walk’ through it. Each of the five continuous movements represents one such signpost – a memory meaningful to Cerrone – and is accompanied by a field recording taken from that location.
Filmmaker Mark DeChiazza has directed a complementary film included with the album that visually represents the percussionist’s journey through Cerrone’s music and his remembered places. In essence, the images flow between two visual worlds: a concert stage in which my performance represents the present reality, and five on-location sites that represent the layers of Cerrone’s memories and their past realities. The stage becomes a gateway that opens to reveal vivid tactile portrayals of evocative locations, the sonic signposts from Cerrone’s life that are both abstracted and heightened by the physical immediacy of musical performance. The performance footage for this film was shot at EMPAC, and the location shots were filmed all around New York.
In Celestial Sphere by David Crowell, eight different marimba parts are layered on top of each other to create an incredible composite of sound and rhythm. The resulting texture is dense, and one cannot always clearly discern each independent line, so filmmaker Michael McQuilken created a video accompaniment by shooting each part individually and layering and compositing them together to show their interactions visually.
The structure of Meadowlark by Tawnie Olson is rooted in the field recording of a meadowlark song. In this three-movement suite, Olson stretches and processes the birdsong and blends the result with a live marimba part also drawn from the field recording.
Paola Prestini composed G-Force for vibraphone and string quartet as a beautiful tribute to a close friend. I am joined by Brooklyn Rider for this recording.
Timo Andres’ work Crashing Through Fences is a duo for piccolo, glockenspiel, and kick drums. He took these innately unfeasible timbres and created in his words, “an almost uncomfortably intimate sort of piece—the two instruments interact hesitantly at first, then with increasing boldness. And at opportune moments, they savagely kick each other.” Flutist Gina Izzo joins me for this piece.
Memory Palace was released on January 6th, 2017 with an event at National Sawdust. It will be distributed nationally – both digitally and physically – by Naxos, and internationally by Select Music UK. 21c Media and the PR team at Naxos will handle publicity, and Vic Firth will release the two videos.
This is a short film of Christopher Cerrone’s work ‘Memory Palace’ conceived of and created by Mark DeChiazza. It was recorded during a residency at EMPAC and at locations throughout New York City. It will be included with the album and eventually released through the Vic Firth YouTube channel, a platform with 240k subscribers.
This is a performance video of David Crowell’s work ‘Celestial Sphere’ shot and produced by Michael McQuilken. It attempts to depict visually the many layers of music that happen simultaneously in this piece. It will be included with the album and was released on the Vic Firth YouTube channel on January 6, 2017.
Start and End Dates
08/01/2016 — 01/06/2017
Brooklyn, New York