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Dallas Symphony finally premieres Stewart Copeland percussion concerto


The following is from the February 6, 2011, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Four of the five members of D’Drum — Doug Howard, Jamal Mohamed, Ed Smith, and John Bryant — are SMU instructors.

Previewing the Performance

SMU music major Chris Calloway wrote a preview of D'Drum performance that was posted on the Meadows site on February 4:

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra commissioned Stewart Copeland, drummer and founder of renowned rock group The Police, to compose a work for percussion group D’Drum and the DSO that will premiere this weekend at the Meyerson Symphony Center. SMU instructors Doug Howard, Jamal Mohamed, Ed Smith, and John Bryant are four of the five members of D’Drum who will be performing Copeland’s Gamelan D’Drum, a composition for world percussion and orchestra, on February 5.

Although most people know Stewart Copeland, a 2003 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for his work with The Police, he has also composed operas, ballets, chamber music pieces, and some of the film world’s most innovative and groundbreaking contemporary scores. His Gamelan D’Drum is a three-movement, 35-minute composition that is unique in the way it combines gamelan instruments with the classical instruments of the Dallas Symphony. . .

The ensemble, D’Drum, is a five-member percussion group that has been performing and playing together for the last 12 years. Originally getting together on Monday nights to play world percussion instruments, the group has gone on to record for the National Geographic film Lions of Darkness, in addition to the award-winning PBS children’s show Wishbone. As in their live performances, their recordings feature music derived from traditional cultures of Bali, Africa, Persia, and other regions blended with the influences of Western classical and jazz forms.

Read the full story.

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February 7, 2011

Classical Music Critic

More on this story  The audience fairly exploded Saturday night in the most uproarious ovation I can remember at a Dallas Symphony Orchestra classical concert. It came at the end of a new work for “world percussion” and orchestra by Stewart Copeland — yes, that Stewart Copeland, former drummer of the rock band The Police.

Titled Gamelan D’Drum, the 37-minute, three-movement piece was commissioned by the DSO for the local percussion ensemble D’Drum. In addition to DSO percussionists Doug Howard and Ron Snider, the group includes John Bryant, Jamal Mohamed and Ed Smith.

 Saturday’s performance, at the Meyerson Sympony Center, was the only one of a program whose Thursday and Friday dates were cancelled because of unusually wintry weather. It’s a tribute to DSO musicians and music director Jaap van Zweden, as well as D’Drum, that a tricky piece was capably assembled on a shortened rehearsal schedule.

The Meyerson’s stage extension was filled with a wide variety of drums, gongs, marimbas, even a cimbalom (a hammered dulcimer), representing ethnic traditions as varied as Balinese, African, Turkish and Hungarian.

Having studied D’Drum’s complement of instruments, Copeland gives the players plenty to show off, including opportunities for improvisation. The music sometimes echoes Javanese and Balinese gamelans, with their hypnotic patterns on hung and kettle gongs, sometimes the intensity of African drumming. Mohamed put on a particularly brilliant display of drumming at the start of the third movement, the placement of his hands varying both pitch and timbre.

Repetitive rhythms and jabbing syncopations whip up tremendous energy, and many a head in the audience could be seen enthusiastically bobbing. The second movement, by contrast, opens with tropical-jungle rustles, rattles and bird calls.

Read the full review.

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