RS transparentthe official blog of the Percussive Arts Society

  • In Memoriam: Rob Parks

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jun 21, 2022

    Dr. Rob Parks died of cancer on June 12, 2022.

    Dr. Parks was the Director of Percussion Studies at Lebanon Trail High School in Frisco, Texas. He also taught the percussion students in the Lebanon Trail Cluster at Fowler Middle School and Clark Middle School, and served as the conductor and director of the Fowler Percussion Ensemble, who performed at PASIC 2015. In addition, Dr. Parks assisted the percussion section of the Liberty High School Full Orchestra in preparation for their performance at the 2015 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic.

    Prior to his appointment at Lebanon Trail, Dr. Parks served as Director of Percussion at Liberty High School in Frisco and Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, Texas. During his time at Smith, the Newman Smith Trojan Marching Band qualified for the Texas State Marching Band Contest in 2009 and 2011. Dr. Parks’ students successfully auditioned for placement in the TMEA All State Bands and TMEA Region 24 All-Region Bands and Jazz Bands, and performed with the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra. His students also performed with such drum corps as The Cavaliers, Blue Knights, Crossmen, Madison Scouts, and Southwind.

    Dr. Parks served on the percussion faculty at the Bands of America/Music For All Summer Symposium and Yamaha Sounds of Summer Camps, and he taught and arranged for high schools throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Japan. He was a founding member of the UK Percussion Quartet, which performed throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana, including a performance at the first annual Bands of America National Percussion Ensemble Festival. During the summer of 1999, he was a member of the Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps, and he served as a percussion consultant for Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps.

    Dr. Parks was a contributing composer for a multiple-percussion book entitled Multitudes, published by Innovative Percussion, as well as contributing composer and assistant editor for a collection of rudimental solos titled The Blue Book, published by Tapspace Publications.

    Dr. Parks received his bachelor's degree in Music Education from Austin Peay State University, where he studied percussion with David Steinquest. He earned a master's degree in Percussion Performance and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, both from the University of Kentucky, under the direction of Professor James Campbell.

  • In Memoriam: William Kraft

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Feb 14, 2022

    kraft-williamPAS Hall of Fame member William Kraft, former Principal Timpanist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Professor Emeritus, Composition Program, at the University of California Santa Barbera, died on February 12, 2022.

    Born on Sept. 23, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois, Kraft grew up in San Diego and joined the United States Air Force for three years in the later part of World War II. He received his bachelor’s degree cum laude in 1951 and his master’s degree in 1954 from Columbia University, where he was awarded two Anton Seidl Fellowships. His principal instructors were Jack Beeson, Seth Bingham, Henry Brant, Henry Cowell, Erich Hertzmann, Paul Henry Lang, Otto Luening, and Vladimir Ussachevsky. He studied percussion with Morris Goldenberg, timpani with Saul Goodman, and conducting with Rudolph Thomas and Fritz Zweig.

    During his years in New York, Kraft was active as a freelance musician and was an extra percussionist for the Metropolitan Opera. In 1954, Kraft joined the Dallas Symphony. After one season there, he moved to Los Angeles.

    He became a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic beginning in the 1955/56 season. He spent his first eight years as a member of the percussion section, and the remaining 17 years as principal timpanist. Kraft was also the assistant conductor of the orchestra for three seasons under Zubin Mehta. From 1981–85, Kraft was Composer-in-Residence for the orchestra, during which time he was also responsible for the founding and directing of the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group.

    During his early years in Los Angeles, Kraft organized and directed the Los Angeles Percussion Ensemble, a group that played a vital part in premieres and recordings of works by such composers as Ginastera, Harrison, Krenek, Stravinsky, and Varèse. Kraft served as Stravinsky’s timpanist and percussionist in charge of all percussion activities for the composer’s Los Angeles performances and recordings. As a percussion soloist, he performed in the American premieres of Stockhausen’s “Zyklus” and Boulez’s “Le Marteau sans Maître,” in addition to recording “Histoire du Soldat” under Stravinsky’s direction.

    Kraft received numerous awards, including two Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, two Guggenheim Fellowships, two Ford Foundation commissions, fellowships from the Huntington Hartford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Music Award, the ASCAP Award, and the NACUSA Award. In November 1990, Kraft was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. In October 2009, Kraft was given The Forte Award for distinguished achievement in advancing modern music in Los Angeles.

    As a composer, he received commissions from the Library of Congress, the U.S. Air Force Band, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, Voices of Change, the Schoenberg Institute, the consortium of Speculum Musicae/San Francisco Contemporary Music Players/Contemporary Music Forum, the Boston Pops, the consortium of Pacific Symphony/Spokane Symphony/Tucson Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others. He also composed film soundtracks, including the scores to Psychic Killer (1975), Avalanche (1978), Bill (1981), and Fire and Ice (1983). 

    In the 1960s and 1970s, most of Kraft's compositions were serial, while in the 1980s he incorporated jazz rhythms and impressionist harmonies. Percussion works feature prominently in his catalog, and several of his notable pieces were introduced during the annual Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) over the years. In 1996–98 he concentrated on composing his first opera, “Red Azalea.” Kraft’s “Contextures: Riots – Decade ’60” (1967) was choreographed and performed by the Scottish National Ballet and the Minnesota Dance Company. In 1986, United Air Lines commissioned a work to accompany a lumetric sculpture by Michael Hayden titled “Sky’s the Limit” for their pedestrian passageway at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. His “Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra,” commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was premiered in January 2003. In 2005, Kraft’s “Concerto No. 2 for Timpani: The Grand Encounter,” commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, was premiered under conductor Michael Tilson Thomas with David Herbert as soloist. A revised version of the concerto was premiered in the spring of 2007 by the Hong Kong Philharmonic, conducted by Xian Zhang, with soloist James Boznos; later the same year, David Herbert gave the first U.S. performance at PASIC in Columbus, Ohio, with the Akron Symphony. Later works include “Brazen,” commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and “Concerto for Four Percussion Soloists” for symphonic wind ensemble, premiered and recorded by the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble.

    Compact discs completely devoted to Kraft’s music can be found on the Harmonia Mundi, CRI, Cambria, Albany, Crystal, and Nonesuch labels. Other works can be found on GM, Crystal, London Decca, and Neuma. In February 2007, The Southwest Chamber Music Society embarked on a project to perform and record 14 of the 15 “Encounters” pieces.

    Kraft served as chairman of the composition department and holder of the Corwin Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1991 until he retired in June 2002.

    Doug Howard, former principal percussionist of the Dallas Symphony, had several opportunities to spend some time with Bill Kraft over the years. “I always found him to be a warm, friendly, sincere, and generous man, in addition to being a brilliant artist, composer, and educator,” Howard says. “Through his compositions, his recordings, his writing, and his teaching, Bill has left us a considerable legacy, and he will be sorely missed.”

    L.A. percussionist Danielle Squyres first encountered Kraft when she was fresh out of high school. “I was one of the soloists for his ‘Concerto for Four Percussion Soloists and Orchestra,’ for which he conducted the dress rehearsal and concert,” Squyres recalls. “I honestly didn’t know anything about him at that time, and it was probably a good thing; otherwise, I might have been too intimidated to play, but I will always remember looking up at him after my first glockenspiel cadenza and seeing a small nod, a smile, and a twinkle in his eyes. In that short time of working with him, I knew he was the real deal. I soon learned that Bill was a fixture in the Los Angeles percussion scene, and we were spoiled to have him here and be a part of it. It was not unusual to see him conducting his pieces, going to concerts, giving pre-concert talks and school lectures, or in some cases, calling him up to ask him about things — which he was always happy to talk to you about. I was so fortunate to cross paths and be involved with projects he was connected to over the years, and I cherished each one. He had a love of life and often showed it by dinner parties or after-concert receptions. His lovely wife, Joan, would cook amazing feasts, and Bill would regale us with wonderful stories about Stravinsky, conductors, composers, music, and life in general. It was always such a comfort just knowing he was still here. To say he will be greatly missed is an understatement. It’s impossible to imagine Los Angeles, and indeed the world, without Bill in it.”

  • In Memoriam: Christopher Deane

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Oct 10, 2021

    Christopher DeaneChristopher Deane, who served as Professor of Percussion at the University of North Texas College of Music for the past 21 years, died on October 9, 2021.

    Deane held performance degrees from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He studied with James Massie Johnson, former principal timpanist of the St. Louis Symphony, and percussion with Allen Otte. He also studied independently with Roland Kohloff (New York Philharmonic), Eugene Espino (Cincinnati Symphony), and Leonard Schulman (New York City Opera).

    Deane was formerly principal percussionist with the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra and principal timpanist of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra. He was a frequent performer with the Dallas Wind Symphony and appeared on five recordings with that ensemble. Deane was the principal timpanist of the Greensboro Symphony for nine years and performed with the North Carolina Symphony for ten years. Deane also performed with the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Utah Symphony and Virginia Symphony, working with such conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Loren Maazel, Andrew Litton, Jaap van Sweden, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and Keith Lockhart. 

    His chamber-music experience included performances with the Percussion Group Cincinnati, Aeolian Chamber Players, Mallarme Chamber Players, and Philidor Percussion Group. He appeared in more than 70 performances as a concerto soloist with symphony orchestras or wind ensembles.

    He was the faculty percussionist for the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival in Maine from 1982–89, where he worked closely with composer George Crumb, performing his music and serving as a consultant to Crumb for works including “Idyll for the Misbegotten,”“Quest,”and“Haunted Landscapes.” Deane served as a percussionist for the American Dance Festival from 1992–96. He also served as faculty percussionist for the Vale Veneto Music Festival in Brazil.

    Deane recorded as a timpanist, percussionist, and Hungarian cimbalom soloist. He was a featured concerto soloist on two UNT Wind Symphony recordings featuring the concertos of Joseph Schwantner, Russell Peck, and William Kraft. Deane also recorded the music of Stravinsky with conductor Robert Craft for the Naxos Label, and recorded with the Detroit Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Greensboro Symphony, Cincinnati Philharmonia, Mallarme Chamber Players, St. Stevens Chamber Orchestra, and Winston-Salem Symphony.

    Deane won both first and second prize in the PAS Composition Competition. He studied composition with Sherwood Shaffer, Robert Ward, and Charles Fussell, and independently with Ben Johnston. He has received numerous commissions including from the Percussive Arts Society, University of Oklahoma, and the University of Kentucky. His music has been performed and recorded internationally, and a number of his compositions have become standard literature on concerts and recitals worldwide. Deane served two terms on the PAS Board of Directors. In 2019 he received the PAS Lifetime Achievement Award. 

    According to UNT School of Music Coordinator of Percussion Mark Ford, “Since his cancer diagnosis over four years ago, Chris has been incredible, performing often on campus and with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, composing new works, and teaching our wonderful students at the University of North Texas. His warm, caring personality and love for his family, friends, and percussion never faded as he fought this illness. Christopher was an amazing musician, a visionary composer, and an inspiring teacher.

    “As a composer, Chris consistently developed new approaches to percussion music. His ‘Vespertine Formations’ demonstrated to the music world the expressive potential of the marimba quartet. He transformed the art of classical vibraphone with his composition ‘Mourning Dove Sonnet,’ and Deane’s marimba solos, such as ‘Etude for a Quiet Hall,’ ‘Three Shells,’ and ‘Process of Invention’ are classics. Chris was a multi-talented artist, performing often on cimbalom as well as percussion with orchestras throughout the country. His heart was always with the orchestra, and to hear Christopher play timpani was an insight into his passion for music.

    “A beloved and caring teacher, Chris’s many students over the decades have benefited from his dedication to musical detail concerning both classic works and new music. His former students are now performing and teaching throughout the country as well as in Europe and Asia. The fall 2021 semester marked our 30th year to teach and perform together, starting at East Carolina University and then UNT. Words cannot express the loss of my comrade and friend. To say that I will miss him is simply not enough,” Ford said.

    “Everyone who met Chris knew a man filled with wisdom, memorable quotes, a warm and welcoming smile, and a sincere desire to help others,” said Dr. Brian Zator, Director of Percussion, Texas A&M University–Commerce, who was a student, colleague, and friend of Chris Deane. “He encapsulated the positivity, optimism, and patience required to teach generations of students. Above all else, Chris not only helped his students become better musicians, he showed them how to be better human beings. In addition to his uniquely fantastic compositions continually performed around the world, his memory and selflessness will live in our hearts forever. Chris was a wonderful friend, and I will miss him dearly. For the percussion community, Chris leaves an indelible legacy in every composition he wrote, every student he taught, and every performance he gave. We will ALL miss him so much.”

    In lieu of flowers, Deane’s family asks that people consider making a donation to the Christopher Deane Percussion Scholarship Fund at the University of North Texas. 

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