hom•age [hom-ij] noun: respect or reverence paid or rendered; something done or given in acknowledgement of the worth of another.
During my studies abroad, I have always been moved by how much other cultures value and respect the gift of a life-changing teacher. It is with deep gratitude that I dedicate this recording to the four men whose hands are pictured on this CD, hands that have profoundly shaped my development as a musician and as a human being. To James Campbell, Allen Teel, Benjamin Toth, and my father, Arthur Williams: thank you for everything.
Kenyon Williams has worked throughout the United States as a professional performer, educator, arranger, and clinician in Western classical, non-Western folkloric, and chamber music idioms. He has performed as a guest soloist and section member for numerous orchestras throughout the country and currently serves as Principal Percussionist with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony. As a Professor of Music at Minnesota State University Moorhead, he directs the acclaimed “Fuego Tropical” Percussion and World Music ensemble as well as the MSUM Percussion Ensemble. His interests have taken him abroad for extended studies in Ghana, Cuba, Brazil, Indonesia, and Trinidad. Dr. Williams is a Yamaha performing artist, currently serves as chair of the World Percussion Committee of the Percussive Arts Society, and endorses LP Instruments, Innovative mallets, and Coyle Steel Drums.
"Sedimental Structures" was originally commissioned by and composed for marimbist Robert VanSice. Written for solo four-mallet marimba, it is structured in four main sections, each of which is based on the material contained in the very first measure. The piece has an organic or earthy quality, hence the term “sedimental.”—Gordon Stout
Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame marimbist and composer Gordon Stout is Professor of Percussion at Ithaca College (NY). As a past composition student of Joseph Schwantner, Samuel Adler, and Warren Benson, many of his compositions are published and have become standard repertoire for marimbists world-wide.
"Duo for Tenor Steel Pan and Computer," commissioned by Kenyon Williams from composer Cort Lippe, captures the interaction of an acoustic tenor pan as it is filtered through a computer running Max/MSP software. The computer interacts in real time with the performer—tracking pitch, timbre, volume, and rhythmic events—and responds with a variety of compositional algorithms utilizing analysis/resynthesis, spectral delay/feedback, spatialization, and more, thus allowing the performer the opportunity to actively shape the computer output.
Director of the Lejaren Hiller Computer Music Studios at the University of Buffalo, American composer Cort Lippe is recognized world-wide for his expertise in composition and computer music. His compositions have received numerous prizes and he has been commissioned by internationally acclaimed soloists in virtually every medium, including strings, harp, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. His works are regularly performed at national and international festivals and are recorded on more than 30 CDs, including ADDA, CBS-Sony, Centaur, Innova, EMF, and Hungaroton Classic.
Written by saxophonist and composer Russell Peterson, the "Duo for Saxophone and Percussion" is a show-stopping work commissioned by Kenyon Williams. Marimba, vibraphone, cajon (a wooden box), doumbek (a Middle Eastern hand drum) and a small battery of percussive instruments mix and mingle with alto and soprano saxophones as the composition moves from the “Funky” sounds of the first movement through a hauntingly graceful “Adagio” before climaxing in the explosive “Allegro” finale.
An accomplished American classical/jazz saxophonist, bassoonist and composer, Russell Peterson has soloed with orchestras and leading jazz artists in the United States as well as Europe, including receiving the top prize at the 1995 International Geneva Saxophone Concours, (Switzerland) and first place at the 1995 MTNA National Solo and Chamber Music Competition. As a composer, he has been commissioned by numerous organizations, orchestras and individuals for performances around the world. He currently serves as Professor of Music at Concordia College (MN) and as principle bassoonist for the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra.
In the Veracruz region of Mexico lie some mysterious archaeological ruins: El Tajin, meaning, "thunder" in the Toltec language. Smothered in dense jungle vegetation, El Tajin is one of Mexico's most puzzling archaeological sites, as many of the structures seem to refer to the measurement of time. The Pyramid of Niches, with its 365 alcoves, suggests to archaeologists that this pyramid was used as some kind of calendar with each niche representing the days of the solar year. It is also clear that ritualistic games involving human sacrifice were a part of the site. "Tajin," commissioned by Kenyon Williams from percussionist and composer James Campbell, interplays 3 against 6 against 5 in a variety of polyrhythmic patterns performed on a battery of percussion instruments (including a pair of Venezuelan joropo maracas), all set against a mysterious digitally recorded soundscape.
James Campbell has received worldwide recognition as a performer, pedagogue and composer, and is a respected figure in the development of the contemporary percussion ensemble. Currently Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, he has published with Hal Leonard Publishing, C.L. Barnhouse Co., C. Alan Publications, Innovative Percussion, Row-Loff Productions, Meredith Music and Alfred Publications.
"In the Fire of Conflict," by renowned Canadian composer Christos Hatzis, exists in multiple versions for a variety of instrumentations. In all of the versions, including this one for solo percussionist playing crotales and marimba, the composer utilizes a digitally recorded track which live musicians accompany (rather than vice-versa), thus placing the focus on the audio track rather than the performers. Of his work, Mr. Hatzis writes, “There will come a time soon when our faith in God will be the only life vest that will protect us from drowning spiritually in the vast sea of hopelessness that surrounds us already. This is the story I wanted to tell through this work, but I wanted to say it not from the vantage point of spiritual certainty, but from the impenetrable darkness of someone struggling to stay afloat amidst this sea of hopelessness….I have always been fascinated by the prosodic rhythmic discourse of hip-hop music, but certainly not by its implicit endorsement of misogyny and violence that one so often encounters in hip-hop lyrics. The Christian rap group Poetik Disciples used the same musical techniques to essentially create devotional songs and that was very inspirational to me. I contacted the leader of the group, Steve Henry, aka ‘Bugsy H.,’ who, as it turned out, had experienced personally the ‘bottom of the well’ by way of gang violence, loss and incarceration, and asked him if he could help me with this project. A few days later he sent me some rap tracks which he created for this specific project and I knew then that my work would be very much emanating from his specific material which has been incorporated into the accompanying audio playback component of the piece.”
Recognized as “one of the most important composers in Canada,” (International Musician), Christos Hatzis has composed major works for all media and is the recipient of numerous commissions from some of the best-known artists in Canada and abroad. His music has been featured in many international festivals, is being broadcast regularly by CBC and foreign networks and is frequently performed worldwide. Compact disc recordings of his works are available on the Naxos, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Sony Classical, Analekta, Marquis, Centrediscs and CBC labels. In addition to composing, Christos teaches composition full-time as an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto.
"Homage to Jimi": Gamelan-ish, African diaspora-ish, post-atonal-ish, fusion-ish—Henry Gwiazda
Henry Gwiazda is a composer/new media artist and guitarist. Since 1986, he has worked with sampling and sound effects to create a unique musical language that is derived from the interior musical characteristics of noise itself. As a composer/performer has performed at New Music America New York, the Kitchen, the Bang on a Can Festival and many more performance spaces and universities. He has received grants and commissions from the Bush, Jerome, Barlow, and McKnight Foundations among others. His multimedia works based on virtual realism and movement are screened monthly throughout the world.
Carrie Magin’s virtuosic "Capriccio for Violin and Marimba," commissioned by Kenyon Williams, takes its listeners on a journey through a variety of tonal and emotional landscapes. After opening with a stern series of musical gestures, it enters into a lilting, tango-inspired main theme while taking its cues from 20th century harmonic practice. As the work progresses, the energy rises and falls until furiously collapsing into a gentle, undulating closing statement.
Fulbright recipient Carrie Magin is a Doctoral Graduate Assistant at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where she is completing advanced studies in composition. As a marimbist and composer, she has performed and had her works featured throughout the United States and abroad, including with the Buffalo Philharmonic Young Composers Forum, Ottawa 60x60, and the Eastman Women in Music Festival.
Assistant Professor of Violin at Florida State University, Benjamin Sung is also concertmaster of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with numerous orchestras in the United States and abroad and is a past winner of the Starling Award of the Eastman School of Music and the Violin Fellowship of the Montgomery Symphony. As an enthusiastic advocate of contemporary music, he has worked with many of the greatest composers of this generation and has recently completed an album of new American music on the Albany Records label supported by a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.
Kenyon Williams was a fiscal year 2010 recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Commissioned works as well as initial recording/mixing fees were funded, in part, by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.
Recorded at Minnesota State University Moorhead Recording Studios
Edited and mixed at RJ Ryan Productions, Moorhead, MN
Ryan Jackson, engineer
Produced by Ryan Jackson, Kenyon Williams, Cort Lippe* and Henry Gwiazda**
*Duo for Tenor Steel Pan and Computer, **Homage to Jimi
Mastered at Rare Form Mastering, Greg Reierson, Minneapolis, MN
Art direction and design by Amanda Schlosser
Cover album photographs by Cassidy Bjorklund, Emily Teel, Yu-Hsin Chang, and Larry C. Sanders © (used with permission). Interior/back cover photographs by Darel Paulson and Andrew Sailer.
“Homage” © 2013 by Kenyon Williams