The Kansalla Story
Composer: Walter Mertens
Instrument: Percussion Ensemble
Duration: 6 min.
Ethnic percussion from East to West.
A meeting with a concert and a Scottish high tension snare, an Irish frame drum, a Spanish Cajon, an African Talking drum and a Turkish darbouka. Everyone with his own typical styles, and there opinionated rhythms.
About the composer +
Walter Mertens, born 30 April 1965, began his musical studies at the Academy for Music in Mol. He won a First Prize Percussion at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp. Mr. Louis Caubergs was his teacher. He obtained the Higher Degree at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven with Mr. Leo Ouderits as his tutor and mentor. To complete his musical studies, Walter Mertens obtained a Master Degree at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp, also guided by Mr. Leo Ouderits.
Nowadays Walter Mertens teaches percussion, ensemble and instrumental ensemble. He is also coordinator at the Academy for Music in Schoten.
Besides his teaching Walter often participates in workshops, he offers artistic support and is frequently asked as a member of the jury for contests for soloists and ensembles in Belgium and abroad e.g. Vlamo, Belfius Classics, Belgian Percussion Days 2011, 2012, Perculliria (Spain), Bumfest (Slovenia), Waubonsie Valley High School (Chicago US).
Together with three other professional percussionists, Walter Mertens forms the group '4Pk'.This renowned quartet arose from the former Mol Percussion Orchestra and plays its own creations at home and abroad. As a composer, Walter Mertens focuses on teaching methods as well as compositions for percussion solo, duo, ensemble, symphonic orchestra, musical, wind instruments, jazz combo, piano, chamber music and choir. Several compositions won prizes in different competitions or were assignments in national and international contests or manifestations such as WVMC in Kerkrade (Nl), Temsig-Slovenian Music Competition for youth (SLO), EMJ Neerpelt (B), Vlamo (B).
The oeuvre of Walter Mertens is well-known far beyond our boundaries and one can find it in Europe, America and Asia.
Review (Percussive Notes, July 2016)
Belgian composer Walter Mertens has created a “United Nations Subcommittee on Percussion” in his quartet “The Kansalla Story.” He combines hand drums from Ireland, Turkey, Africa, and Spain with a concert snare drum and tambourine, and tops it all off with a high-tension snare drum. The 6½-minute groove-based work is comprised of three sections, all played attacca: a 12/8 opening, a slightly slower 4/4 featuring the tambourines and swelling hemiolas in the snare drum, followed by an accelerando into the last section, which introduces the high-tension snare drum. A brief return to the opening 12/8 brings the work to a close.
Since the composition is a very straightforward ostinato-based jam, this piece makes for an easy introduction to some less common, multi-cultural instruments. Adding solos to the piece would make a nice variation, and would provide the audience a much better chance to hear the unique sounds each drum is capable of creating—something that tends to get lost in the full texture of the work. Once the instruments themselves are acquired, maintaining a good balance between the snare drums (especially the high-tension drum) and the other hand drums is likely the primary difficulty.
Front Cover graphics and layout: Gaia Gomes
Engraving: Walter Mertens
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark