Friday, November 16, 2007

Re: Percussion

The St. Olaf percussion ensemble was outstanding as usual. Their recital last night had an unexpected treat for me: They played "Three Brothers." Written in 1948* by Michael Colgrass (then an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois), it has become an old standard for percussion ensemble. The piece uses ten drummers on fairly traditional instruments (marimba, cowbell, snare, tom-tom, bongo, triangle, timpani, bass drum, wood blocks, etc.). The music, now almost 60, has aged well.

When I was a junior in high school, "Three Brothers" was just sixteen years old. My drum teacher, the legendary Harold Firestone, arranged it for seven musicians and we took it on the road, appearing as guests of several small orchestras in the region. It was a rewarding experience and we felt a little like rock stars, although we were our own roadies and there weren't many screaming teenage girls greeting us at the stage door.

Anyway, it was a very pleasant surprise -- a reunion of sorts -- to hear "Three Brothers" again.

* Hagedorn said this in his introductory remarks, but the publisher of the sheet music says it was copyrighted in 1951.


Bleeet said...

You know, an mp3 link would have been a nice addition to this post... I'm not an old percussionist.

Jim H. said...


I agree entirely, completely, and without reservation.

Two problems:

1) I do not know how to embed MP3 files in a blog post. (Hell, I just barely can manage links to other sites.)

2) I couldn't find an MP3 of "Three Brothers," and I did try, really I did.