Posted on June 9th, 2013
If you are not already familiar with Marc Mellits‘ music, go and check it out. Marc was recently mentioned in a NewMusicBox article by Rob Deemer in which his music is described as expressing “a sense of pure joy." While this is certainly true, Marc’s music is also always fun to listen to and even more enjoyable to perform. For some essential listening, check out the Mellits Consort recordings or Real Quiet’s disc on iTunes to get a good feel for his music.
I got to know Marc back in 2010 when we did a performance of Reich’s Sextet at the University of Central Florida (we later performed Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians on multiple concerts in 2012, as well). After meeting Marc and hearing him speak to my Composition II class at UCF during his 2010 visit, I immediately became intrigued by his music and performed parts of his marimba duet, Red, and his snare drum solo, Stick, while touring in Bangkok, Thailand later that summer. I, along with other colleagues, soon realized the need to ask Marc to write a new percussion-based work. We decided on a quartet for two marimbas and two vibraphones (Marc has a self-professed love for the marimba) and the commission was underway.
Early on in the project, I created a Tumblr page to share content with the consortium members. The page is visible to the public so I’ll provide the link below:
In addition to content about Marc and the project, it also contains a list of consortium members and premiere performances that will be given between May 2013 and May 2014. Feel free to take a look at the page to get a better feel for the project.
To keep the consortium up to date with early developments, Marc and I did the following video interview at the outset of the project (recorded July 23, 2012):
We were fortunate to have Marc as our guest composer for our 2013 Collide Festival at UCF earlier this year. This next video is a reading session of Gravity done by the UCF Percussion Ensemble in February of 2013 during his visit (there is even a shot of Marc playing marimba):
Marc also did an even earlier reading session with Percussions Claviers de Lyon in the summer of 2012. Out of that collaboration came a second version: the piece can also be performed with an added bass marimba part (using five players).
With performances already given by Third Coast Percussion, Talujon, Clocks in Motion, and Percussions Claviers de Lyon, Gravity is well on its way to becoming standard repertoire. The work is exclusive to the consortium through May of 2014.
Talujon sent me the below recording of a performance of Gravity they did at June in Buffalo earlier this month. Fantastic performance!