Nearly 25 years after we were graduate students at the University of Illinois, Michael Manion asked me to compose a solo work for him to perform on the malletKAT. As Maniondala neared completion in 2008, a severe stroke left Michael permanently disabled. In 2009, my NIU colleague Greg Beyer performed Maniondala during a University of Illinois Percussion Ensemble concert held in Manion’s honor and arranged by its director, William Moersch. The UIPE’s performance of Manion’s Long Roll II (percussion quartet) and Beyer’s premiere of Maniondala can be heard on the 2017 Albany CD, Long Roll: A Tribute to Composer-Percussionist Michael Manion (1952-2012), supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council and appreciatively reviewed in Percussive Notes (May 2018) and Pan Pipes (Spring 2018). Manion’s music and papers (housed in the Sousa Archive and Center for American Music at the University of Illinois) include correspondence related to the performance and notational practices of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s works between 1984 and 1987, during which time he assisted the noted German composer.
Maniondala incorporates aspects of and excerpts from three works comprising my Mandala series (1977-1979): Synchron (a 15-part rondo) for percussion quartet, Radius for trombone and 12 cassette tapes, and Trigon for amplified woodwind trio. All were designed for performance in the round. Maniondala is a 7-part rondo (ABACABA) with introduction, coda, and a closing solo. The introduction and coda begin with recorded excerpts from a 1981 UCLA performance of Synchron by Tintinnabulum (Karen Ervin, Scott Higgins, Marj Holmgren, David Johnson), leading to heart-beat rhythms performed by the soloist. Each refrain section begins with an excerpt from a 1982 UCLA rehearsal of Trigon featuring Harry Bulow (soprano saxophone), Michael Kibbe (oboe), and Donald Ransom (clarinet in A), followed by the soloist’s synchronous (LH, RH) attacks performed at various tempi (from the refrains of Synchron). The episodes (B,C,B) pair the soloist’s long rolls (after Manion’s Long Roll II) with sustained electronic sonorities (source materials for the cassette tapes in Radius) created in the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios.
Maniondala is dedicated to Michael Manion, who gave the first two performances of Synchron with Michael Friedman, Scott David Lyons, and Kirk McKenna at the University of Illinois in 1979. Thanks also to Greg Beyer, Elizabeth Clark, William Moersch, Tony Reimer, Ethan Martin--and for the support of the NIU Graduate School, including the School of Music's malletKAT on which Ethan Martin performs this evening.
Robert Fleisher attended the High School of Music and Art in New York City, graduated with honors from the University of Colorado Boulder, and earned his M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in composition at the University of Illinois, studying with Salvatore Martirano, Ben Johnston, and Paul Zonn. Author of Twenty Israeli Composers (1997), he is also a contributing composer and essayist in Theresa Sauer’s Notations 21 (2009). Fleisher’s chamber works have been described as “eloquent” (Ann Arbor News), “lovely and emotional” (Toronto Musicworks), “astoundingly attractive” (Perspectives of New Music), and “ingenious” (The Strad); his electroacoustic works as “rich, tactile” and “endearingly low-tech” (The New York Times). Fleisher’s music is regularly performed in the U.S. and abroad, most recently including NYCEMF (2017, 2018), Greece, Russia, Switzerland, and the U.K. In November, British pianist Martin Jones will premiere and record his Gig Harbor and Six Little Piano Pieces for Vol. 5 in the PnOVA American Piano Music series. Additional recordings appear on Albany, Capstone, Centaur, Navona, Sarton, and SEAMUS labels. Dr. Fleisher is Professor Emeritus at Northern Illinois University.
Performer Biographical Sketch
Ethan H. Martin (b. 1990) is a versatile contemporary percussionist and a current Performer’s Certificate student at Northern Illinois University.
As a member of DeKalb, IL based Barb City Percussion, Ethan has performed both locally and abroad. In 2017, the ensemble was invited to Costa Rica to take part in the Fifth International Festival of Percussion Ensembles. As featured artists, Barb City Percussion performed a full program of music in the capital city of San José, presented an outreach concert in Limón, and led master classes for students at the Centro Nacional de la Música. The ensemble had the honor to present the world premiere of Amniorrhexis by Chicago-based composer Brian Penkrot.
Ethan’s varied musical interests collide as a performer with Projeto Arcomusical, a world music sextet reimagining the Afro-Brazilian berimbau through a repertoire of unique, powerful, original concert chamber music. As a member of Projeto Arcomusical, Ethan has performed at Harris Theater in Chicago for the inaugural Ear Taxi Festival and at National Sawdust in Brooklyn for the 2017 Percussion Marathon hosted by Ian Rosenbaum and Andy Akiho. Additionally, he has performed and/or assisted in Arcomusical presentations at educational institutions including the Juilliard School, Boston Conservatory, Princeton, University of Massachusetts, Baldwin Wallace University, Bowling Green State University, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Kansas State University, Western Washington University, and the Cornish College of the Arts. He can be heard on the ensemble’s second album, Spinning in the Wheel, due out in Spring 2019.
Ethan is presently on the faculty at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. He earned undergraduate degrees in Music Performance, Neurobiology, and Zoology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a Master’s in Percussion Performance at Northern Illinois University. His primary teachers include Dr. Gregory Beyer, Dr. Anthony Di Sanza, and Thomas Ross.