"Our goal with these sessions was to use improvisation as a means to develop chamber music skills. Before each piece, we set a goal for a performance technique we wanted to emphasize. For example, we would set out to pay close attention to ensemble balance for a piece, or to focus on group phrasing.
In the first video, the technique of choice was cueing. We set out to lock onto cues, both visual and aural, as a means to trigger musical change. Throughout the piece, we had moments of sudden group shifts and moments of gradual progress. If this were a composed piece, we would spend rehearsal time assigning cueing roles. We wanted to use this same strategy in an improvised setting."
"For the second video, we decided to work in groups of two or more players to create a unified texture within the piece. As we began improvising, hockets started to emerge and this directed much of our playing. Groupings ended up changing very frequently, but our ensemble listening focused on fitting into one another’s parts."
I highly encourage everyone to go take a listen to what this group is up to. They are a great group of dudes that can really play and I hope they continue to make music together for a long time! Check out this feature with Vic Firth, which was recorded and shot by Evan Chapman!
Anthony Di Bartolo is a New Jersey-based percussionist, composer, and educator.