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PE - 2/28/18 Butler

Youngstown State University

Percussion Ensemble

28 February 2018


Butler Institute of American Art



Ritual Music: Variations on the Numbers 2 and 4 (2006)                David Skidmore (b. 1982)

Ritual Music was written for the Chicago dance company Raizel Performances and was premiered in 2005. As the title suggests, I used the numbers two and four to bring order to the primeval timbres and violent counterpoint of the piece. The pitches in the marimba, the rhythmic motifs, and the structure of the phrases were all determined numerically. As such, a friction is created between the mechanical simplicity of the structural elements and the abandon with which the instruments shout, shriek, groan, and wail. The ritual is tightly controlled with respect to its numeric foundations, yet it is also an incantation of things far more frantic and powerful. Thus, the piece can act as a sort of "overture" for percussion. Notes by David Skidmore.


2+1 (2013)                                                                                              Ivan Trevino (b. 1983)

Evan McCreary & Tommy Starr - marimba

In the words of composer Ivan Trevino – There are many percussionists around the world who only have access to one marimba (like me!). I decided to write a piece that would allow two marimbists to play a duet utilizing one marimba. While 2+1 simplifies instrument needs, it creates a challenging experience for the performers, who have to maneuver around the instrument without getting in each other's way. In addition, the piece is written so that the players face each other. At the time I composed it, I was listening to Bon Iver's self-titled release and although the rhythmic language in 2+1 is different from the band's album, the harmonic language shares similar qualities. The piece is dedicated to my wife Amanda. We recently rescued a puppy named Sadie, the first "addition" to our family; hence the name 2+1.


Escape: Sextet for Triangles (2014)                                                   Drew Worden (b. 1988)

This work was written for "Im-Pulse Image Percussion" at the Eastman School of Music. "Im-Pulse Image Percussion" features the Eastman Percussion Ensemble and Professor of Percussion Michael Burritt performing new works to accompany short animated features produced by filmmaker Mary Ellen Bute in the 1930's and new films created by Rochester-based filmmaker Stephanie Maxwel. The music may be performed with or without film. Notes by Drew Worden


Ragtime Selections               George Hamilton Green (1893-1970), Arr. Bob Becker (b.1947)

            Log Cabin Blues (1924) featuring Anthony Tresky                                                                

            Spanish Waltz (1924) featuring Tommy Starr

            Chromatic Fox-Trot (1924) featuring Tracey Rusk                                                                

            The Ragtime Robin (1924) featuring Brandon Maffitt                                                          

            Xylophonia (1925) featuring Joel Gillespie                            Joe Green (1892-1939)

                                                                                                                        Arr. Bob Becker          

Ragtime Music - notes by Bob Becker

            During the last twenty years of the 19th century, a revolutionary method of playing popular music emerged in the United States - a style of creative, syncopated transformation and embellishment of a melody. Essentially an Afro-American phenomenon, the style was crystallized by Black pianists into a genuinely classical compositional form called the “Rag”, a word probably derived from vernacular descriptions of the highly syncopated melodic lines as “ragged”. These melodies were set against a steady, march-like bass pattern played by the pianist’s left hand.

            After 1915 the rag began to be transformed, and its infectious syncopation was applied to many types of popular and some classical music. Stravinsky’s “Ragtime for Eleven Instruments” and Debussy’s “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” are examples. The term “ragtime” came to refer to all music that used the characteristic four-against-three syncopation of the earlier piano rags. By 1920 a type of ragtime became popular along with a new dance called the fox-trot. Known as “novelty ragtime”, this music was highly technical, programmatic, and speedier than previous rag music, and it was a perfect vehicle for an instrument which had recently been engineered to a high standard of quality by manufacturers in the Chicago area - the xylophone.

During the 1920’s the xylophone as a solo instrument reached a peak in popularity. Xylophone soloists appeared with piano accompaniment, in dance orchestras and concert bands, and were heard regularly on radio broadcasts and phonograph records. George Hamilton Green, Sammy Herman, and Harry Breuer, the best-known xylophonists of this era, won critical acclaim as well as tremendous public esteem. All were great artists, but perhaps the most important was George Green, who, until his retirement in 1940, reigned supreme among xylophonists. He was a great technical innovator, as well as a prolific composer, and hence played a major role in the creation of an extensive solo literature for the xylophone. This body of music came to include transcriptions of standard overtures, Hungarian rhapsodies, violin concertos and concert piano selections, as well as original compositions for the xylophone in the form of medleys, rags, and novelty dance music. 

            This music has been arranged by Bob Becker a member of the renowned Canadian percussion group Nexus. These arrangements are scored for xylophone soloist, four marimbists, and a potpourri of percussive accents.


YSU Percussion Ensemble Personnel:

Edward Butcher, Salem, OH

Zachary Criss, Warren, OH

Spencer Crosser, Lisbon, OH

Joel Gillespie, East Liverpool, OH 

Brandon Maffitt, Warren, OH

Evan McCreary, Poland, OH

James Reardon, East Liverpool, OH

Tracy Rusk, Brookfield, OH

Tommy Starr, Pittsburgh, PA

Anthony Tresky, Pittsburgh, PA


Thanks to Avedis Zildjian Co. (cymbals), Remo Inc. (drumheads and world percussion), Innovative Percussion Inc. (sticks and mallets), and Black Swamp Percussion (accessory percussion) for their generous product and artist support.



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