Robert Grahmann is a percussionist currently studying musical performance at Arizona State University. In addition to a variety of ensembles at ASU, Robert has played with Phoenix Theatre Company and as a soloist at the Arizona PAS Spring Festival. He is an active member in the local jazz community and takes a particular interest in small chamber ensembles and contemporary works, having participated in ASU's PRISMS Contemporary Music Festival. Robert will graduate from ASU Barrett in Spring 2023 and is looking into possible graduate school programs.
R!S: How do you find new pieces that you are interested in playing? What factors do you consider when seeking out and/or choosing new solo or chamber repertoire?
Robert Grahmann: I find new pieces by hearing them either in concert or through recordings that companies, performers, or composers put online. Usually, when I hear something I like, I look into other works by that composer as well, and sometimes spend time browsing the publishing company’s pages. If I'm choosing chamber repertoire, I usually think about what instruments my friends play and if it's logistically feasible. For any type of piece, I think about if it is musically enriching for me to learn, if it presents something new and intriguing, and if I think people would want to hear it more than once.
R!S: What changes about the way you play a piece as you “live” with it for a while? Do you typically perform a piece once or multiple times?
RG: I tend to shift my focus to different parts of a piece during the process of learning and sitting with a piece. The music I'm learning and how I play it is always informed by what other music I'm listening to at the time as well, deliberately or not. As a younger student, I used to often only play a piece once when I learned it, but now I am finding that I have more opportunities to play a given piece.
R!S: How involved and in what ways is your instructor involved in your repertoire selection?
RG: Dr. Compitello is fairly involved in my repertoire choices, at least insofar as I usually play what he recommends. We usually discuss why it would be good for me to learn a particular piece, which helps me to know what he believes is important for me to learn and to make informed choices of my own both now and in the future.
R!S: Do you finish every piece that you start to learn? If not, why not? If a piece seems like a poor fit or you struggle unusually with it, how do you proceed? Do you “bail” on the selection, or what changes do you make to allow yourself to complete it?
RG: I usually finish learning a piece that I start, though I have abandoned the process occasionally. Sometimes I feel as if I've gleaned all I can from learning a particular piece before finishing it, so my practice time is better spent elsewhere. I will say that I think the best pieces are rewarding throughout the learning and performing process.
R!S: What is one particularly favorite piece of repertoire you’ve performed and why?
RG: Last year I learned and played Juri Seo's vibraphone quartet “VV.” I particularly enjoyed the rehearsal process for this piece, largely because I enjoyed working and spending time with my colleagues with whom I played the piece. This piece really rewarded digging into the composite rhythm and how my part fit into it musically, and it was nice to be able to perform this several times for various concerts and recitals.