Posts By: Bill Cahn

Karel Husa (August 7, 1921 – December 14, 2016)

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There has been yet another major loss for the classical music world. Karel Husa, the internationally known composer and conductor, and winner of the 1993 Grawemeyer Award and the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Music passed away on December 14, 2016 at the age of 95. He died at his home in Apex, North Carolina. Ruth… Read more »

Seiji Ozawa and “The Musings of the Maestro”

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Seiji Ozawa and “The Musings of the Maestro” – Wall Street Journal Nov. 19, 2016 (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-musings-of-the-maestro-1479494754) It was interesting to open the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 19 and find a review about a newly published book titled, “Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa” by Haruki Murakami. I immediately ordered a copy of the… Read more »

A Cuckoo Question

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Another instrument inquiry from my email basket: Question: “I’m curious as to how Humperdinck wrote the part [for cuckoo in his opera, ‘Hänsel und Gretel’] calling for this specific instrument, and having it in the percussion part? Was this a common instrument in Germany at the time? Or, [was it] having to do with silent… Read more »

The Bass Drum – Is it Turkish or Scottish?

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A few weeks ago I received a question about my essay titled, “Orchestral percussion in the twenty-first century” in “The Cambridge Companion to Percussion” edited by Russell Hartenberger. Question: Are the bass drum descriptions of Turkish/Scottisch [bass drums] reversed on page 23 [of the Cambridge Companion]? My Response: This is an interesting question basically about… Read more »

Homemade Castanet Machines

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A few months ago I received the following in an email: Question: I would like to make a castanet machine. I want to use it at schools (children 10-12 years) Can you tell me how to make it, like you did? My Response: I made my first castanet machine when I was in high school…. Read more »

Colin Currie’s Visit to ROC Drummers

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  On November 2, 2016 we were surprised and delighted when Colin Currie, one of the world’s foremost percussion soloists, entered into the ROC Drummers’ rehearsal space at the David F. Gantt Community Center in Rochester, NY. Colin was in town for two performances as the featured soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Jennifer… Read more »

The (Art?) of Hanging Gongs

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Further to emailed inquiries on the subjects of percussion performance and instruments, one recent inquiry was seeking advice about support structures for gongs. This topic is right up my alley. I’ve always had a fascination with pitched gongs and unpitched tam-tams, probably inspired by John Wyre, a colleague in NEXUS until his passing in 2006…. Read more »

A Question about Teaching Beginners

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As mentioned in previous blog postings, I regularly receive emails containing questions about percussion instruments, performance and pedagogy. One such question was emailed to me recently. Question: How would you start a beginning mallet student? What exercises and books that you would use to have the player develop a feel for the instrument? How would… Read more »

Peter Sadlo (1962-2016)

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It was shocking to read in a FaceBook posting on July 29, 2016 that Peter Sadlo, one of the leading percussion soloists in Europe, had passed away. The circumstances of his passing remain unknown to me as of this writing. In 1992 when NEXUS first met Sadlo, he was the Principal Percussionist (Solopauker) with the… Read more »

Percussion on the NEXUS “Ragtime Concert” LP & CD

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Question: Who played the Percussion part on the “NEXUS Ragtime Concert” LP and CD?   The NEXUS LP record titled, “NEXUS Ragtime Concert” was made in 1976 in Toronto. It was recorded using the best technology at the time: the direct-to-disc process, in which a performance was recorded in real time directly from the mic… Read more »

A Rope Drum Restored

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On Friday, April 1 Ruth and I walked into an antique shop in Caledonia, New York, and I was almost immediately drawn to a colorful item sitting on one of the tables; it was a very nice rope snare drum. The shop’s proprietor told me that it was brought into the shop by a Civil… Read more »

The Russell Hartenberger Celebration

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On April 10, 2016 a celebration for Russell Hartenberger was held in Walter Hall at the Faculty of Music of the University of Toronto for Russell’s retirement. In attendance were many of Russell’s colleagues, former students and friends, including special guests, Janet and Alan Abel.

Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” – a Question

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From time to time I receive questions regarding specific passages for percussion in the orchestra and chamber music repertoire. Question: Can you shed some light on Stravinsky’s notation at rehearsal “29” in “Les Noces” in the caisse claire/tambour sans timbre part?   Response: I assume that this question is about the rolled-chords (vertical wavy lines)… Read more »

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