COMPOSER perspective:
A Conversation with Joseph Schwantner on “Fast Forward”

Featuring Michael Burritt and the Eastman Percussion Ensemble

Fast Forward: Chamber Concerto for Solo Percussion, Percussion Quartet, Piano, and Contrabass
by Joseph Schwantner

Fast Forward was co-commissioned by the Donald F. and Maxine B. Davison Foundation and the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Eastman School of Music. The new work was written for percussionist and composer, Michael Burritt, Eastman’s Paul J. Burgett Distinguished Professor.

Performed March 23 & 24, 2022 at the Kilborn Hall at the Eastman School of Music. Members of the Eastman Percussion Ensemble are:

Ethan Hall, Austin Keck, Young Kyoung Lee, Will Newton, Georgia Mills (piano), Zoe Markle (bass)

Published by Schott Helicon Music Corporation © 2021 Used with Permission


“Percussion has long played a prominent role in my music. As a young composer, percussion’s rich tapestry of articulations and colors opened a new soundscape to consider in my work. This penchant for embracing clear and pointed sounds with sonorous qualities first surfaced during my boyhood days while studying the classical guitar. I would often practice endlessly with one ear firmly resting on the instrument’s soundboard allowing me to hear the guitar in an entirely new way. The guitar’s soundboard with its strong and immediate vibrations, drew me into a seemingly vast sound space of plucked articulations and resonating overtones- all sounds not normally heard but are a part of the guitar’s rich and unique timbre. Only later did I fully appreciate how those formative musical experiences had become an important part of my musical DNA.

The chamber concerto’s ensemble includes a variety of pitch instruments: vibraphones, marimbas, xylophone, chimes, crotales, glockenspiel, frosted crystal singing bowls, and a series of drums that include: timbales, bongos, tom-toms and concert bass drum. Other non-pitched instruments employed are: tam-tam, gong, cymbals, cowbells, triangles, amglocken and stainless steel mixing bowls.

Framed in a single extended movement, the work opens with two introductory ideas, a forceful full-ensemble drum gesture followed by a ringing and quickly rising arpeggiated sonority played by mallet instruments and piano. The soloist takes the lead in presenting these primary elements that form the basis for much of the material developed throughout the wor

Two major sections focus on mallet instruments: (vibraphone, chimes, crotales, glockenspiel, marimba and xylophone) and drums: (tom-toms, timbales, bongos, snare drums amd concert bass drum). Also employed are several instruments not normally a part of the percussionist’s arsenal, frosted crystal singing bowls (played by rubbing outer edge of the crystals with a leather striker) and a set of stainless steel mixing bowls.”

      – Joseph Schwantner


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