We asked CMS artist Ian David Rosenbuam a few questions about life as a percussionist and what we have to look forward to in his upcoming New Music concert.
What’s your favorite thing about being a percussionist?
It's just plain fun - I literally get to hit things every day. A composer can turn anything into a percussion instrument, and working closely with them to create new instruments and sounds is thrilling.
How is preparing new music works different than preparing classical repertoire, and what challenges come with preparing for a new music program?
There's actually one thing that makes preparing contemporary music easier than preparing classical repertoire - in many cases, the composer is alive and reachable, so you could ask them anything you like. We sometimes spend hours and days agonizing over why Beethoven made a particular musical choice, but if I want to know why Steve Reich did one thing or another, I can just ask him!
I try to prepare contemporary music just like I would classical repertoire. The harmonic language may be different, but the emotions that we're trying to communicate are the same.
Why is it important to continue presenting new music?
The future of our art form lies in new music. The classics will remain timeless, and they should be played, but to further the genre and expand the emotional capabilities of our instruments, we must continue to commission composers to write new works. You never know when you'll find the next master composer.
What are some of your favorite things about performing chamber music?
Performing chamber music is so much fun because it's unpredictable. At any point, your partner could make a decision that sends the piece down a new path.
The process of learning and rehearsing a piece of chamber music is a very intimate one, and it's really wonderful to get to know somebody that well - the capabilities of a whole group are often so much more than the sum of their individual parts.
What are some things we have to look forward to on the January 26 New Music program?
Luciano Berio's Linea is a masterpiece and it's not performed that often. Ayano [Kataoka] and I have been dreaming of playing this piece for years, and we're so excited. Steve Reich's Quartet is a newer work of his. It's exciting and particularly challenging, and the second movement is gorgeous. We round out the program with two exciting duets - one each for the pianists and the percussionists.