School of Music to host Grammy award nominated quartet

The UC School of Music Kura Puoro is delighted to be hosting the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet (LAPQ) in September. A special one-night-only concert in The Great Hall at the Arts Centre is being presented on Monday September 23. This concert forms the second in a series of three concerts in partnership with The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora.

Senior Lecturer, Dr. Justin DeHart is one of the founding members of this world-class contemporary chamber music ensemble. Since 2009, the LAPQ has forged a distinct identity that is dedicated to commissioning and presenting new works for percussion quartet.

Percussion quartet has gained popularity over the last two decades with the advent of DIY chamber groups and the rise of post-minimal music making combining rock aesthetics with electronica and experimental genres. Justin says, “The dynamic as a musician in quartet is just pure fun: the give and take and communicative aspect of a more intimate group”.

For LAPQ the percussion quartet medium has been an exciting medium to explore and commission new repertoire. There just isn’t the hundreds of years of percussion quartets available to use from Beethoven, Brahms, and even Stravinsky. LAPQ’s “classic” repertoire is not yet a hundred years old!

Justin is particularly excited to share his new home country with his fellow quartet members. “I am excited to introduce the group to all the wonderful people I have met here, and have some time for them to experience a bit of the culture.”

While in Christchurch LAPQ will also perform a concert with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra playing the world premiere of Gyre (Ghosts with Accents), a piece written for them by UC lecturer and Adjunct Senior Fellow, James Gardner. James says, “I feel doubly lucky to have been offered this commission. For one thing, being asked to write for the LAPQ is an honour, as well as a technical challenge. I was keen to draw on the players’ expertise and finesse on many instruments as well as their enthusiasm and – here and there – their improvisational skills. The second aspect is to write for the CSO, whose programmes over the last few years have been consistently innovative and have featured New Zealand composers.”

James took the “slightly unusual decision” to focus on ‘unpitched’ percussion in his writing for solo quartet. He says this was “partly because I didn’t want to rely on pitch/harmony for the quartet writing (the orchestra is large enough to provide harmony) and partly because I wanted to showcase the subtleties and richness that can be drawn from such a variety of objects in the hands of such fabulous performers.”

The concert in the Great Hall on September 23 will be their New Zealand debut performance solely as a quartet.

This concert will feature modern works written for percussion quartet with and without electronics. They will perform some of their signature recent commissions from the West Coast of the United States alongside some seminal classics from the region. The concert will feature virtuosic displays of rhythm, sound, light, and movement on over 60 different percussion instruments from around the world, including drums, marimbas, conch shells, tin cans, cricket callers, wooden rulers, and a lion’s roar.

“Percussion still has an aspect of novelty despite it coming out of from the back of the orchestra in the early 20th century”, Justin says. “I think that when people normally think of percussion, they think of loud repeated rhythm, and perhaps barbaric rituals. With our concerts, audiences will be able to experience an often neglected side of percussion—a side of percussion that is far more expressive, sophisticated, and intriguing.”

Tickets for the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet at The Great Hall can be purchased online for $20 waged, $10 unwaged. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to experience the cutting edge of what percussion quartets are currently capable of!