The Well-Tempered Ear

“Grace Presents” opens its new season this Saturday at noon with a FREE one-hour concert by the local percussion group Clocks in Motion, which has just released its first recording. | September 16, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

“Grace Presents,” which just got a new program director Andrea Mauch (below), continues to develop as one of the most innovating and welcome FREE music events in Madison.

Andrea Mauch - long scarf color

The once-a-month series, which is sponsored by and hosted at Grace Episcopal Church (below), 116 West Washington Ave., in downtown Madison on the Capitol Square, offers classical music but also folk, bluegrass, roots and jazz. The quaint historic church has great acoustics and decorating inside.

grace episcopal church ext

MBM Grace cantatas ensemble

For the opening concert the performers at the unusual percussion group “Clocks in Motion,” which grew out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, where the group is now an “affiliate ensemble in residence” for the percussion program. (You can hear them perform in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Clocks collage 2014

Clocks in Motion has also just released its first recording,  “Escape Velocity,” which is an impressive CD that includes a work by Madison composer John Jeffrey Gibbons (below, in a photo by Milt Leidman).

clocks in motion percussion CD

Clocks in Motion John Jefffey Gibbens cr MiltLeidman

The hour-long concert on Saturday -– to run from noon to about 1 p.m. –- will feature rarely heard instruments and unusual compositions that will use contemporary music to highlight the power and diversity of percussion music.

Clocks in Motion’s fresh and innovative approach to contemporary classical performance will provide an exciting concert experience for the Madison community.

The program this Saturday includes:

The new mallet quintet, “Gravity, by Marc Mellits, was commissioned in part by Clocks in Motion in 2013. This piece features Mellits’ pop-minimalistic style with driving rhythms and lush harmonies.  The sectional work builds in intensity, resulting in a climactic and satisfying ending.

marc mellits 1

In “Music for Pieces of Wood” minimalist pioneer Steve Reich liberates the listener from the downbeat with interlocking rhythm and shifting musical gestures. Five performers using warm-toned paduk instruments become one mesmerizing voice.

“Drumming Part 1”, also by Reich, is a driving minimalist piece in which four musicians play four pairs of tuned bongos. The work was highly influenced by the rhythms found in western Africa, but Reich (below) also employs original compositional techniques, such as rhythmic phasing and pattern construction.

Steve Reich

“Four Miniatures” is an original composition by Clocks in Motion member Dave Alcorn (below). It explores the sonic possibilities of handheld percussion. Comprised of four mini-quartets for triangles, tambourines, Uchiwa Daiko and woodblocks/reco-reco, this attractive piece proves that even the smallest instruments can make one move in their seat.

Dave Alcorn

Third Construction”, by John Cage (below), features a wildly diverse instrumentation. Clocks in Motion will use tin cans, maracas, claves, cowbells, Indo-Chinese rattles, quijadas, cricket callers, a conch shell, ratchets, and various drums in this singular and innovative 1941 work.

John Cage and cat

Here is more form a press release:

“Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” by ClevelandClassical.com, Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds its own instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program.

“With a fearless and uncompromising ear to programming challenging and adventurous contemporary percussion ensemble repertoire, Clocks in Motion consistently performs groundbreaking concerts involving performance art, theater, and computer technology.

“Featuring world premieres alongside rarely performed classic works, this ensemble strives to create a new canon of percussion repertoire.

“Clocks in Motion works passionately to educate the young audiences of the future through master classes, residencies, presentations and school assemblies.

“The individual members of Clocks in Motion’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of musical styles including, rock, jazz, contemporary classical music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, and world music styles.

Clocks in Motion overture

“Clocks in Motion has served as resident performers and educators at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Casper College, the University of Michigan, Baldwin-Wallace University, VIBES Fine and Performing Arts, Traverse City West High School, Traverse City East Middle School, Rhapsody Arts Center, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

“Formed in 2011, Clocks in Motion began as an extension of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Graduate Percussion Group, and now serves as the ensemble-in-residence with the UW-Madison percussion studio.

Members of Clocks in Motion are Dave Alcorn, Jennifer Hedstrom, Sean Kleve, Michael Koszewski and James McKenzie.

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3 Comments »

  1. For many of us, the music Clocks in Motion performs is uncharted territory, but it’s well worth venturing into . . . it gives us a new set of ears. And they’re extraordinarily good performers.

    Comment by slfiore — September 16, 2014 @ 8:41 am

  2. I am curious as to what about the Grace church venue qualifies it as “quaint” (no sarcasm intended).

    Comment by Richard Day — September 16, 2014 @ 8:15 am

    • Hi Richard,
      Thanks for reading and replying.
      My dictionary defines quaint as “attractively unusual or old-fashioned.”
      Given the awfully bland architecture of so many modern churches, I think those terms can apply to the graceful Grace Episcopal Church.
      It is a beautiful old structure, very attractive and old in both its exterior and interior. I didn’t use the word pejoratively or dismissively.
      If “quaint” offends you, then just substitute a different word or adjective that you like better,
      Best to you,
      Jake.

      Comment by welltemperedear — September 16, 2014 @ 8:41 am


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