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Over the Bar

Composer: Christopher Swist

Instrument: Marimba and Frame Drum

Level: Advanced

Published: 2015

Price: €25.00

Item details

  • Description +
    • Duration: 10 min.

      I was talking with my good friend Daniella Ganeva in Austin at the annual percussion convention (PASIC). She mentioned she was in an exciting new duo called Framed Resonance with Paolo Cimmino. Marimba and frame drums: that combination instantly starting my wheels turning. I had the good fortune to meet and study with Glen Velez at The Hartt School in 1997. I had more good fortune to be roommates with both Shane Shanahan and Mark Katsaounis shortly after Glen had left his mark in Hartford and finalized the text for the Handance Method. Many of us Hartt students took our tars, bodhrans, riqs, bendirs, and oceans drums into venues and dance studios all over the state of Connecticut...

  • Instrumentation +
    • Marimba and Frame Drum

  • About the composer +
    • In 1999, The Instrumentalist stated that Christopher Swist’s published marimba work “should become a part of contemporary four-mallet marimba repertoire.” Since then his compositions have been published and performed across the United States and Canada as well as in Europe, South America, China, and Australia. His first solo CD Whitewater, funded by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, was released to critical acclaim in 2001. Percussive Notes found the recording to have “musicality, interest, and excellent sound.” His Percussion Quartets No 1 and No 2 were featured on the 2008 Festival Internacional de Inverno de Campos do Jordão in Brazil. In 2012, The Bard Conservatory Orchestra premiered Swist’s orchestra piece Abaprima. TMI Arts Page reviewed the premier as having “joyous sound” and “a natural for the orchestra.” Abaprima was also performed in 2013 by The Louisville Orchestra.  

      In October 2013, his second solo CD, Duality, was released and contains 77-minutes of acoustic and electronic music. Like Whitewater, Duality has also gathered positive reviews on both Swist’s compositional technique and performance style. American Record Guide commented, “The stick work is good, with tight rolls, evenly gradual dynamic increases and decreases, and sharp accents on the ascending and descending motives.” Percussive Notes wrote of Swist’s “compositional range” and noted “Swist shows extreme aptitude and ease in performing all the keyboard instruments.” Percussive Notes also found the “recording quality is excellent” on Duality. Christopher learned recording engineering and sound design from his late father Larry Swist, an internationally acclaimed studio designer, recording engineer, and producer.  

      Professor Swist is Artist in Residence at Keene State College where he has taught music technology, percussion, composition, and music theory since 2003. He is also on faculty at Franklin Pierce University and has taught at Bennington College, The Hartt School, and Holyoke Community College. He was recently a clinician, soloist, and conductor in Peru for the Ministry of Culture and National Symphony in Lima. Swist was educated at SUNY-Buffalo and The Hartt School, holding two M.M. degrees in both performance and composition. His percussion teachers were Jan Williams, Tony Miranda, John Rowland, Ben Toth, Al Lepak, Glen Velez, Johnny Almendra, and Luiz D’Anunciação. His composition teachers were Jeffrey Stadelman, Stephen Gryc, Robert Carl, Ken Steen, and Ingram Marshall. Christopher is an active symphonic percussionist as well as a contemporary music advocate and often performs with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.  

      Christopher Swist is the president for the New Hampshire / Maine Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. He is also the treasurer and a charter member of the Kappa Pi Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda (national music honor society).  

      Christopher Swist is an artist for Sabian Cymbal Makers and Vater Percussion.

  • Reviews +
    • Review (Percussive Notes, June 2020)

      Commissioned by the Framed Resonance duo, “Over the Bar” is a unique duet for marimba and frame drums. Inspiration for the work comes from multiple conversations with friends, the music of Egyptian composer Hamaz El Din, and studies the composer had with Glen Velez during their years at The Hartt School. 

      The composer states that while the piece can be performed on any choice of frame drums, performers may also choose to perform the work on other hand drums such as congas, djembe, or doumbek. Creativity is encouraged, with the composer stating, “A variety of frame drums and changes are encouraged throughout the piece.” Notation for the frame drum is clear and separated into low (dum), mid (pa), and high (tak) sounds that can be translated to the other instruments. The composer also makes other notations such as finger rolls and friction rolls clear. 

      The piece is in three sections. The first and third sections are more high-energy, and allow for the frame drummer to improvise in some moments. The second section is labeled “Mystic” and utilizes coloristic effects by the frame drummer while the marimba plays a chorale. Both performers need to be experienced players for this duet. While the coordination of the parts should not be difficult, the variety of meter changes as well as the individual technical demands will make this challenging. That being said, those efforts will be well rewarded with an exciting work for a unique instrumentation that would work well on a senior or graduate recital, or any professional showcase. 

      —Brian Nozny

  • Credits +
    • Front Cover graphics and layout: Gaia Gomes
      Engraving: Christopher Swist
      Printed in Copenhagen, Denmark
      Copyright © Edition SVITZER

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