Southwest Chamber Music Tackles Kraft's "Encounters"

Southwest Chamber Music encounters William Kraft.
Corina Gamma

There probably isn’t a kid alive who hasn’t fashioned musical instruments out of kitchenware, from pot-lid cymbals to spoon-and-bowl drums. But while most of us outgrow that cheerfully cacophonous stage, William Kraft remained in it — and took it to dizzying heights of musical wizardry. The famed percussionist, composer and founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group has admitted that he fell in love with percussion as a child, particularly when he heard Jo Jones, the great drummer for Count Basie. That experience found its way, along with other memories, into various compositions that culminated in Kraft’s legendary “Encounters,” a series of works spanning a 40-year history of composition. In each piece, a different instrument or group of instruments “encounters” percussion, either in conversation or combat, and the result is a fascinating exploration of the vast possibilities of instrumental tonal color and range that has led to Kraft being called a “sonic landscape painter.” In the past year, Southwest Chamber Music has been exploring Kraft’s “Encounters,” and this week, in a celebration of his 85th birthday, SWCM members join esteemed new music percussionist Lynn Vartan, guitarist John Schneider, and Mexico’s most famous percussion group, the Tambuco Percussion Ensemble, in a program that includes Encounters XIV: Concerto a Tre; Encounters V: In the Morning of the Winter Sea; Encounters V: Duet for Trombone and Percussion; and the world premiere of Encounters XV for Guitar and Percussion, written especially for Vartan and Schneider. For a little insight into these works that are sometimes audacious, sometimes mysterious and always intriguing, join Kraft and SWCM artistic director Jeff von der Schmidt for a pre-concert talk at 7:30 p.m. Colburn School of Performing Arts; 200 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn. Mon., Oct. 6, 8 p.m.; $38, $28 seniors, $10 students. (800) 726-7247.


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