Over the weekend Promethean Editions was invited to take part and set up shop at Orchestra Wellington’s Day of Percussion, held at Wellington College’s Alan Gibbs Hall. It was to be our first in-person store in well over ten years, so with our crates of sheet music we went off to meet the amazing musicians that perform our repertoire.
Our stall felt like a homage to the early years of Promethean Editions. You see, Promethean got its first big break through our managing director, Ross Hendy, making trips to PASIC selling our percussion music to an international market gathered at that weeklong conference. This time Ross was unable to make it; but, Ben and Moss were able to bring our full percussion catalogue comprising over 100 editions of elegant, compelling, percussion works for the community to peruse.
The event itself was exciting for our staff who all have backgrounds in composition and performance. In the quieter moments we would pop in and check out some of the concerts and workshops going on around us. It was a treat getting to listen to internationally renowned percussionists Fabian Ziegler and Luca Staffelbach talk about their commissions and sharing their arrangements. A personal favourite of mine was an expertly done arrangement by Staffelbach of Claude Debussy’s Arabesque No.2 for marimba and vibraphone. Stafflebach noted that the music of the impressionists lends itself well to percussion due to the amount of tone colours available in percussion instruments.
Sam Notman, a local gigging and session drummer, held a clinic and demonstrated his drum kit prowess, laying down heavy kit-wide grooves in contemporary drumming contexts. His ability to maintain an unrelenting pulse while adding near constant and seemingly nonchalant embellishments was truly impressive. This workshop rivalled Taikoza, who opened the day’s performances, for being the loudest event.
Photo: Orchestra Wellington
The day concluded with one of the most stimulating informal concerts I have been fortunate enough to see. There was Eric Renick performing on snare drum alongside the text-to-speech function on an antique Apple Macbook; a fantastic early New Zealand work, Composition 5 for multi-percussion and tape by John Rimmer, performed by Justin DeHart; and Fabian Zeigler and Luca Staffelbach teaming up for the colourful work Udacrep Akubrad by Avner Dorman, which had each player behind a marimba and but sharing drums in between them and included moving between playing with hands and mallets.
Photo: Orchestra Wellington
My personal favourite was three percussionists (Jeremy Fitzsimons, Samuel Rich, and Thomas Guldborg) performing on one marimba. Using the resonating pipes as an additional instrument, and what was intended to be the sides of the marimba as another voice, unfortunately the particular marimba on the day did not feature the same versatility of sides, so a Cajon was substituted. Regardless, the piece captured the audience from start to finish.
The Day of Percussion is a fantastic event, and we look forward to it again next year; keeping us in-touch with the local percussion communities of New Zealand as well as international performers and composers. Thanks to all who came to check out our editions, leaf through the pages and take advantage of the special offers. Also most enjoyable were the conversations both across the table at the event and at the dinner afterwards.
A huge thank you to Orchestra Wellington and Jeremy Fitzsimons for organising the Day of Percussion, giving a much deserved day to the percussionists of the world.