Bobby Previte’s
five cycles for four percussionists
five concerti for percussion ensemble and soloist

TERMINALS, PART I: DEPARTURES, composed by Bobby Previte, is a thrilling and prolific meeting of the classical and the improvised worlds. The evening-length piece premierèd  at Merkin Hall, New York City on March 28, 2011 as a joint production of WNYC/John Schaefer’s “New Sounds Live” and The Ecstatic Festival. TERMINALS featured SO PERCUSSION and soloists John Medeski, Zeena Parkins, DJ Olive, Jen Shyu, and the composer. The piece has also been performed by SO PERCUSSION at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, and by STUDIO PERCUSSION GRAZ on tour in Austria and Hungary. In November 2013 TERMINALS will make its French debut with LES PERCUSSIONS DE STRASBOURG.

TERMINALS exists in two iterations: the concerto version and the percussion ensemble version (without soloists). The concerto version consists of five separate pieces for four percussionists and soloist: one each for harp/guitar, voice, turntables/electronics, drum set, and piano/organ. Pitting the precise percussion ensemble against the uncontrollable improviser, the inherent paradox in the concerto form is dramatically heightened in an attempt to reconcile the ever-fascinating comic book conundrum: What happens when an irresistible force meets an immoveable object? The percussion-only version, also in five separate cycles, is a perfect vehicle for students as it requires not only exacting reading and execution, but also provides explorations into improvisation, ensemble feel, and theatrical presence.

The complete 90-minute piece places standard orchestral percussion instruments (timpani, snare drum, triangle) alongside those that were codified into 20th Century percussion literature (brake drums, anvils, almglocken), regional instruments highly associated with folk music (cuica, spoons, talking drum, timbales), electronic percussion (drum machine), and other unclassifiable elements (bullwhip), to fashion a indelible landscape.

TERMINALS scores and parts are now available through Bachovich Music Publications.

Bobby Previte’s Terminals is a uniquely visioned tour de force that is sure to change the landscape of the percussion quartet repertoire. — Josh Quillen, SO Percussion

Terminals is a great piece not just because Bobby Previte is a genius (which he is), but also because he writes parts that are just fun to play, and that pure joy comes across in the performance. — Eric Beach, SO Percussion

Bobby Previte is a force.  Each time he sits on his drum throne, it is as if he is discovering the drum set for the first time, but with the facility of a master drummer.  His ideas remain fresh and powerful.  I could listen to him play for days without needing to hear anything else. — Jason Treuting, SO Percussion

The NYU Percussion Ensemble’s recent performance of Bobby Previte’s Terminal 4 was an outstanding opportunity for our students to enter the world of improvisation alongside the familiar world of “written out” composition. The result of this amalgamation of musical styles was a creative and satisfying musical experience that spanned many integral art forms. It is without doubt a necessity that every musician have a vast musical knowledge, vocabulary and experience in this genre. Terminals is the seminal work in the percussion ensemble repertoire for such important and far-reaching experiences. The additional success of the project included the insightful and inspiring direction given to the NYU students by the composer Bobby Previte whom I have found to be an excellent communicator as well as a consummate artist and pedagog. — Jonathan Haas; Director/Conductor, NYU Percussion Ensemble and Percussion Program


TERMINAL 1, for Zeena Parkins’ acoustic and electronic harps, starts with an exciting introduction, her signature glissandi slicing through the ensemble, proceeds to a lyrical trio section with bongos and truck spring, and ends with an 13 bar hocket between Jason Treuting’s and Adam Sliwinski’s thundering bass drums, set on on opposite sides of the stage. Above all this, her electric harp rides roughshod, spurred on by Eric Beach’s timbales.

TERMINAL 2, for Jen Shyu, is written for instruments which have a vocal component, including the Brazilian cuica, a lion’s roar, and a siren whistle. The middle section is complimented by her beautiful playing of the Er Hu, the Chinese fiddle, against an atmosphere of three gently bending flexatones and bowed vibraphone. A trio for voice, tom toms and woodblocks follow, culminating in a rapidly accelerating section led by Beach’s talking drums and Josh Quillen’s rice bowl/whistle passage. The piece ends with a surprising declamation.

TERMINAL 3 for DJ Olive’s turntables uses shifting tempi – a staple of the turntable art – while creating a multi-rhythmic landscape in which the samples run free. Olive scratches in and out of the first movement’s frantic pace, settles into the second movement’s jungle feel with beautiful Shamisen like sounds, and finally comes to a climax with brutal stabs in the last movement, a deliberately slow, crushing crawl inspired by ‘doom metal.’

After intermission, TERMINAL 4, for the composer, pulls out all the stops. A tour-de-force movement, Previte modeled the entire work on elements integral to the history of this instrument he knows so intimately, the drum set. This concerto takes as its inspiration everything a trap drummer experiences. Starting with a highly theatrical beginning – all the members of So Percussion downstage playing only drumsticks, the piece then cycles through everything from hilarious cascades of falling sticks to a development of the simple drummer 1-2-3-4 “count off” where the players must signal their intentions out loud, a spoons and washboard duet with a drum machine followed by an assembly of an entire second drum set just in time for a drum set ‘battle’ between Previte and Treuting leading to a vicious bullwhip cracking by Quillen, and finally, a swirling cadenza led by a distorted vibraphone. History, humor, showmanship and the modern all come together in this sprawling movement.

TERMINAL 5, the finale, directly follows without a break, beginning with a massive chord punctuating the all out cadenza. This movement highlights John Medeski’s thrilling keyboard virtuosity, and the writing –amglocken and brake drum counterpoint, steel drum hemiola and Sliwinski’s majestic chime part – is intended to match the power and reach of the Hammond Organ. In the quiet middle movement, the piano trades with Quillen’s steel drums until finally, Previte re-enters in the last movement for a stunning duet with Medeski, in turn joined by Treuting. The evening ends with all the soloists back onstage in a final build to a huge polychord before the gentle coda emerges from its wake – four chattering snare drums played downstage amongst the forest of fallen sticks.

Download a PDF of Terminals COMPLETE INFORMATION

TERMINALS scores and parts are now available through Bachovich Music Publications.

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