Joe Pazanowski's Performance of "Familiar"

Joe Pazanowski performs “Familiar” at University of Miami Frost School of Music
November 9, 2019

“Familiar” is a piece that grew out of my most recent consortium project for solo multiple percussion with speaking, led by Kevin Keith. The idea of the piece was to use storytelling to evoke the idea of “home” and how “home” changes over the course of one’s life.

My dear friend and colleague, Joe Pazanowski, performed “Familiar” on his solo recital on November 9 at the Frost School of Music. His performance was so genuine and heartfelt, and his musicianship really shone through. Congratulations on this performance, Joe!

Program Note: “Familiar” is about the idea of home and storytelling with a list of some of my favorite memories of what I have considered to be “home.” This is told from the perspective of how our own experiences of home change over the course of our lives. The concept of home to me is not necessarily a physical location, but instead, it is like a permanent bread crumb trail that you can follow throughout your life and return to emotionally, mentally, and perhaps physically as well. Ultimately, I think home is a place where you can find love, comfort, and security at any point in your life. Home is something that needs to be nurtured, and as long as you take care of it and continue to ground yourself in that idea of home, whether it is with people, a location, or a feeling, then that home in return will take care of you.

Westben Performer-Composer Residency 2019

This past week, I had the fortunate opportunity to spend a week at the Westben Centre for Connection and Creativity as part of the 2019 Performer-Composer Residency. Each resident was asked to compose a piece for the group to rehearse and perform as well as present a workshop on something that is currently inspiring them. Everyone’s individual energy and character created such a beautiful group dynamic, and the final concert last evening was an unforgettable evening full of new musical journeys.

I presented a workshop about horizontal and vertical interpretations of music that involved group performances of Pauline Oliveros’ “Sound Fishes” and a graphic/language score of mine which is part of a new set of pieces I am calling the “Tapestry Series.” My contributing piece for the concert, titled “Warp and Weft,” is a text-based score that further pursued this musical exploration of horizontal and vertical motion and how they interact with each other.

Here are a few initial takeaways for me from the residency (this is not an exhaustive list, but the thoughts need time for them to be fully appreciated and put into practice):

  • Motions can be explored in an unlimited set of ways, even if the arrival is only a limited set of options
  • Traditionally-notated, through-composed western music (read: most music taught in academia) can be a sort of “secure container” or “safety zone” for performers because there is not usually need for any creative input except performance interpretation. Although interpretation is extremely valuable to the quality and energy of a performance, we should also encourage each other to explore outside of these comfort zones and use every opportunity to learn from our performances of different genres so they may inform other performance interpretations moving forward.
  • Improvisation is all about observation, breathing life into your creations, and accepting vulnerability.

Thank you so much to Ben Finley, Davy Sumner, Brian Finley, Donna Bennett, Clarke Sumner, and Logan Bennett for helping bring this residency to life. And thank you to all the residents who helped me feel supported in a way that allowed me to accept vulnerability.

I Care If You Listen and Second Inversion Review Projeto Arcomusical’s Spinning in the Wheel

Ondulação by Alexis C. Lamb has a sparkling optimism throughout. Of the pieces included, this one dances the best, reflecting the undulation of its Portuguese title, though not the most intensely. After the purposeful pulses of RodaOndulação is calmer, quieter, and more intimate–a pleasure in its own right.” – Kathleen McGowan, I Care If You Listen

“It can feel at times when listening to Spinning in the Wheel that the music is quite literally spinning and dancing around one’s head, but it is never spinning in place for long, and the members of the ensemble manage to keep listeners on their toes while simultaneously presenting a calmingly cyclical and trance-like listening experience.” – Peter Tracy, Second Inversion


Heartfelt thanks to both Kathleen McGowan and Peter Tracy for their reviews of Projeto Arcomusical’s second album, Spinning in the Wheel. I am especially tickled by McGowan’s quote about “Ondulação” and sincerely appreciate the time and energy that it took for both people to listen to and review the album. Also thank you to I Care If You Listen and Second Inversion for publishing the reviews and helping us build a community through music!

Spinning in the Wheel can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and Bandcamp. Please click here for more information about and to purchase Spinning in the Wheel.

Rose Hutchins and Ballet Bloom Project to Present “The Shape of Relativity,” Featuring “um só” and “Apenas seja”

This Friday, the Ballet Bloom Project of Portland, Maine, will present “The Shape of Relativity.” Choreographed by Rose Hutchins, “The Shape of Relativity” features two of my berimbau compositions from Meia: A Song Cycle for Berimbau, including “um só” and “Apenas seja.” The performance will also include a Q&A/mingle with the artists following the performance.

If you find yourself near Congress Square Park in Portland this Friday, please support Hutchins and her incredible organization! Details for the event can be found here.

Kevin Keith to premiere “Familiar” on May 11 at University of Denver

Kevin Keith recently led a consortium to commission “Familiar,” a solo piece I wrote for multiple percussion with speaking text. Today, Keith will be premiering this piece on his recital, “Home,” at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver. Looking forward to seeing Keith and all the consortium members welcome this new piece into their own performance homes!

Consortium Announcement – “Familiar”

CALLING ALL PERCUSSIONISTS!!!!! My friend and colleague, Kevin Keith, is leading a consortium for a new work that I am composing for solo multiple and speaking percussion. The work, “Familiar,” is an intimate storytelling experience about how the idea of “home” changes over time. If you know any percussionist who is looking for a new addition to their solo repertoire, please share this announcement with them. The consortium closes on May 1, so we have just about two weeks to get the word out. Thank you so much!

Guest Clinician at the 2019 CT Day of Percussion – April 27

Photo Credit: Robert Villanova

In two weeks, I will be presenting a clinic at the 2019 Connecticut Day of Percussion! The clinic will include an introduction to the berimbau, its context in capoeira and the music of Naná Vasconcelos, the berimbau in Projeto Arcomusical, and hands-on activities that focus on building chamber music skills. Hope to see you then!