Macbride, David- Percussion Park, for large percussion ensemble and guest instrumentalists

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Review from Percussive Notes (Dec. 2020):

Percussion Park  

David Macbride  

This immense work by the late David Macbride is a collection of 18 smaller pieces that can be played individually or in one large performance event. First performed in 2010 by the University of North Carolina Pembroke Percussion Ensemble, “Percussion Park” is described in the performance notes as a “musicircus” or a “simultaneous performance of multiple pieces of music in a variety of locations.” This means that for a complete performance, as Macbride intended, the ensemble is split into small groups spread across a park or in different rooms in a building, and they perform their respective pieces at a predetermined time. The audience travels at their leisure to each performance space, ideally equipped with a schedule of events. This experience is similar to that of an art exhibit or museum rather than the traditional concert setting.  

That is not to say that some of these pieces could not be played in recital halls. Several of the works can stand alone in a concert program, such as “Autumn” for vibraphone and glockenspiel, “Bumming” for concert bass drum and three players, and “Swinging” for temple bowls and hand drum, just to name a few.  

The collection is impressive in its variety. Some of the works employ standard notation and sense of pulse, such as “Jamming” for percussion quartet, or “Dreaming” for non-western keyboards, triangles, and finger cymbals. Others give relative pitches or contours and require the ensemble members to communicate with each other to progress, as in “Reflections” for metallic keyboards and triangles. Others, like “Noise” for three suspended cymbals, give copious written instructions and very little notation, presenting more of a thoughtful sound art presentation.  

Each piece also has its own unique personality. Along with the strictly notated examples and the artistically abstract works that can be expected from such a collection, glimpses into Macbride’s sense of humor can also be seen. For example, in “Goofing” for talking drum and xylophone, there sounds like a quote of the “Galileo” call-and-response from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Also, in “Conversing,” the lion’s roar performs a tremolo that is meant to imitate hysterical laughter, and the cuica ends phrases in an ascending inflection, as if to ask a question. These examples and others help demonstrate the wide range of character that this music contains.  

Whether your ensemble is looking to take on a landscape piece, or if you are only looking for one or two works for an upcoming recital, “Percussion Park” is perfect for both situations. This collection comes highly recommended for any experienced percussion ensemble or group of advanced, musically mature students.  

—Kyle Cherwinski  

Click here for a video series of Percussion Park on YouTube.