The first time I ever heard this piece was actually at a Yale Percussion Group concert--it was being performed by Eric Beach (who now plays in So Percussion), who was joined by Wayne Lin and Romie de Guise-Langlois (neither of whom I have had the pleasure of meeting). I really enjoyed the piece when I heard it, but at the time thought it was way too hard for me to ever play. Well, in the beginning of this past semester, I got a call from my teacher telling me that he would like me to pick up the project where Hye Jin Kim, a fellow percussionist who left to pursue work in Korea, had left off. Well, the violinist and clarinetist she worked with weren't into continuing the project as it turned out, so I went ahead and asked my friends Kathryn Kilian and Gleb Kanasevich if they wanted to join me. Kate and I were from the same town in Connecticut and have always had similar musical ideals, so playing with her has always been a pleasure. Gleb is one of the only new music buffs I know in the wind program at Peabody--but he's also a fantastic player and composer, so I was excited for an opportunity to work with them both.
I only really had a month--MAYBE a bit more--to put this piece together. Every piece on my program seemed to introduce a different challenge, and this one was "how well can you learn this under a close deadline". In fact, it was so close that I pretty much find this piece to blame for my relapse of tendinitis right before my recital. The marimba part, technically, is a beast. Well, the violin and clarinet parts certainly aren't any easier, but for me it really took a lot of muscle to play. It couldn't have been more than two weeks before showtime that we were playing through the whole piece for the first time.
That being said, I can't help but be just a little disappointed with this performance. I think I did the best I could, given the circumstances. I just wish those circumstances weren't there, and that I could've had, say, all year to prepare this, and not just a month. I also wish my hands were a little more marimba friendly--this piece has made me question the reality of my current marimba grip, and I'm still thinking of changing it from Stevens grip back to Burton grip, which is the grip I began on.
The piece is a really beautiful work, and I had a great experience working with Kate and Gleb and learning this piece. Kevin Puts, the composer, was actually sitting in the audience during my performance. Maybe I've set my standards too high when I was hoping my performance could be the best performance of his piece he's ever heard. I don't think I can shake that standard, though.