Arts and Music
A Penchant For Percussion
KATHY GREENBERGJohn Shaw's penchant for variety will be put to the test Dec. 12 through 14 for The Florida Orchestra's concert "Haydn, Brahms & John Shaw." The orchestra's principal percussionist will perform the concerto "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel" by Scottish composer James MacMillan.
Published: November 30, 2008
Published: November 30, 2008
With about two dozen instruments at his fingertips during the 25-minute performance, Shaw has his work cut out for him.
"There's something about playing a lot of different things in percussion that I find intriguing," Shaw said. "I play them the instruments in sections. There's a whole bit of time in between where I have to get from one station to another while the orchestra is still playing. I have to learn the silences and know when to come back in again. It is challenging."
"Veni, Veni, Emmanuel" is based on material from the 15th century French carol "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." MacMillan wrote the Advent-inspired piece specifically for Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and it premiered in London in 1992.
Through rhythmical heartbeat motifs, the work explores the different sonorities of various percussion instruments. Shaw will play the marimba, which he described as "a cousin to the xylophone but lower in pitch and having more resonance." He'll also perform with chimes that recollect church bells, Thai nipple gongs (named so because of the distinctive raised centers), Javanese gongs, wood temple blocks that impart a Southeast Asian sound, bongos and a bass drum, among others.
Not surprisingly, accommodating so many instruments in one locale poses another challenge for Shaw.
"I don't have enough room in my house to set everything up. I practice gongs and blocks at home, marimba onstage in between rehearsals or I'm over at St. Pete College in the band room," Shaw said.
Raised in Milton, Shaw started taking piano lessons when he was 7. On occasion, his teacher would add the marimba, which sparked his interest in percussion.
In 1992, he joined The Florida Orchestra, where his wife, Anna Kate Mackle, is the principal harpist. He also teaches music at St. Petersburg College and is a member of the seven-member steel drum band Tampa Bay Steel Orchestra. Shaw's solo performance will highlight the qualities that a drum, cymbal, chime or block can lend to a musical composition - what he called "a splash of color or sparkle."
In addition to Shaw's performance, the orchestra's December program includes a Progress Energy Masterworks concert featuring Haydn's Divertimento in B-flat Major and Symphony No. 103, Drum Roll, plus Brahms' Variation on a Theme of Joseph Haydn.
Haydn, Brahms & John Shaw
WHEN AND WHERE: 8 p.m., Dec. 12, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Ferguson Hall, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa; 8 p.m. Dec. 13, Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater
HOW MUCH: $19 to $65; 1-800-662-3331; www.floridaorchestra.org
A Baroque Holiday
WHAT: Violinists Nancy Chang and Sarah Shellman will perform Bach's Concerto for Two Violins, "Winter" from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and Astor Piazolla's "Winter" from "Cuatro Estaciones Potenas" ("Four Seasons in Buenos Aires"). The orchestra will play Handel's "Water Music" and "Fantasia on Greensleeves" by Vaughan Williams.
WHEN: 11 a.m. Dec. 18
WHERE: Mahaffey Theater
HOW MUCH: $24, $27, $32, $40