New Hampshire marimba tour

November 27, 2010

A quick, two-day Super Marimba tour of New Hampshire. First stop on November 21 was a concert at Dartmouth in Hanover. Doug Perkins hosted me and the concert was fabulous. Great turnout, especially from the community at large. Lots of elderly people and families with kids. I’m never sure what they’ll think when I build up giant walls of noisy distorted marimba sounds, but they loved it. Doug’s three-year-old son Jake was running around the whole time saying “Payton, I am an ice cream cone!” Apparently when you’re wearing two hats you become an ice cream cone. I got a kick out of seeing Doug in Daddy mode, while also balancing being a host. He apologized a few times for the multitasking, but I reassured him that there was nothing to apologize about.

I began the next day with a two-hour trail run in the New Hampshire woods, then drove east to the University of New Hampshire, in Durham. At 11:00 I gave a lecture on the influence of Hindustani music on American Experimental music, then I shared a wonderful lunch with Daniel Beller-McKenna, a smart and engaging musicology professor at UNH. After lunch I wandered around the campus, meditating on endurance sports and experimental music, enjoying the crisp air and the fall sunshine. I wound up in the library and enjoyed some nice quiet time to read and doze on a couch. At 6:00 I unloaded my electronic gear and started setting up and sound checking. I was performing in a large rehearsal room that presented some interesting feedback challenges, most of which I smoothed out, some of which I shrugged my shoulders at. That’s the beauty of my set up. Every room is a new sound world. I respond to my environment, feedback and all.

By 8:00 the space was packed, and the ushers had to create another row of chairs. We dimmed the lights and I began. I started with a few pieces I commissioned from other composers, then improvised freely for a bit, then played the block of Super Marimba music you have here. My energy level was very high, with razor-sharp focus. I felt a real connection with the audience and the long run in the morning in the woods had once again renewed that Sense of Wonder that I prize so highly, the fountainhead of all my artistic activities, the feeling I seek with every note I improvise, compose, and play. A half hour passed very quickly, I completely forgot about where I was or what I was doing. One of the most enjoyable performances of my life.

Special thanks to my dear friend Rob Haskins for hosting me. Thanks also to Daniel Beller-McKenna and Nancy Smith for their hospitality.

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