Composer: Walter Mertens
Instrument: Percussion Ensemble
Duration: 6 min.
Atlantic breeze is a perfect blend of a smooth melody and a driving, but restful groove on the cajon and the triangle. A more dramatic theme on the marimba and the vibes interrupts this flowing motion. At the end, the main theme brings us back. Take a walk at the seaside.
Marimba (4 1/3-octave)
Cajon & Small Setup
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)
This delightful five+ minute work has hints of light calypso and island music, and will nicely fill the “easy listening” slot of a percussion ensemble or chamber percussion concert. Three keyboard players, two with small extra instruments, and a percussionist (cajon, conga, and pedal instruments) are all kept busy throughout, with the melody moving between keyboards, and the percussionist providing the groove.
The straight-forward ABA form consists of grooves in 7/8 and 4/4. In the 7/8 section, one marimba lays down a rhythmic ostinato with the cajon and triangle, and the other marimba plays a charming melody full of short rising passages followed by longer notes. A number of “tricky” rhythms occur, notably a quintuplet over the last three eighths of the 7/8, with a rest on the first note, but the constant underlying groove and repetition of these rhythms alleviate the difficulty considerably. The 4/4 section features rolling triplets, while the percussionist plays a rather sparse conga groove. The other marimba and vibraphone take turns with the melody, again including short rhythmic set-ups to long, breezy sustains. A bit of variation and counter melody are added to the return of the A section.
If the pedal instruments are accessible, I believe an average high school percussion ensemble can put this together. College students should have no trouble. The piece is scored well, such that balance issues will take care of themselves, at least until dealing with conceivable nuisances of a specific performing space. I also see potential for “opening up” some of the repeated passages for improvised solos, if desired
Front Cover graphics and layout: Gaia Gomes
Engraving: Walter Mertens
Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark