The McCormick Percussion Group is recognized by composers and aficionados throughout the world for their creative interpretations and recordings that are decidedly out of the mainstream of percussion literature. The MPG often collaborates with guest non-percussion performers to explore and develop new trends of compositional thought. Among the most recorded ensembles of the genre, MPG has recorded dozens of albums including several on the Ravello Records (distributed by Naxos) label. To ensure the original intent of each composition remains intact, guest composers are often invited to rehearse and record with the ensemble. The McCormick Percussion Group is directed by Robert McCormick.

 

“The MPG performers are unnervingly in step with each piece’s different vibe. There is not one measure in anything they play that doesn’t come magically alive, as if it were being heard in the composer’s mind for the first exhilarating time.”

Gramophone, Feb. 2016

 

 

Robert McCormick is currently Professor of Music at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He served as principal percussionist/assistant timpanist with the Florida Orchestra for 20 seasons. He is a former member of the Harry Partch Ensemble and often performs and records with high profile artists of all genres. In 2010, he conducted the premiere performance of Chan Hae Lee’s Korean folk opera Simcheongga at the National Center of Performing Arts in Seoul. In March 2014 McCormick performed the world premiere of Baljinder Sekhon’s Double Percussion Concerto at Carnegie Hall with percussionist Lee Hinkle. McCormick was the 2006 recipient of the Florida Music Educator of the Year Award; the 2007 Grand Prize in the Keystone Percussion Composition Award; the 2010 University Distinguished Teacher Award; and the 2015 Percussive Arts Society Lifetime Achievement in Education Award. He has also received several Global Music Awards for his albums, many of which are published on the Ravello Records label and distributed by Naxos. McCormick proudly endorses Encore Mallets, Grover Pro Percussion, and Zildjian Cymbals.

 

Joseph Alvarez is Lecturer of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of South Florida and the principal tubist of the Imperial Symphony. Previously, he served as principal tubist of Sinfonia da camera in Urbana IL. Alvarez has performed with ensembles such as the Sarasota Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Illinois Symphony, Champaign-Urbana Symphony, and Chicago-based new music collective Dal Niente. He has performed under the baton of conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Barry Wordsworth, Leonard Slatkin, James Gaffigan, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Larry Rachleff, Peter Oundjian, and Kristjan Jarvi. Recently, Alvarez served as an adjudicator and performing artist at the 2018 Southeast Tuba Euphonium Conference (SERTEC) in addition to being awarded a grant from the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS).

 

With a passion for expanding the repertoire of the tuba and euphonium, Alvarez regularly programs his own arrangements for recitals. His arrangement of Prokofiev’s Five Songs Without Words is published through Cherry Classics.

 

Haiqiong Deng is a performer of the traditional Chinese instrument known as the zheng (or guzheng). She was the recipient of FSU College of Music Research Fellowship (2018), the Florida Folk Heritage Award (2017), the Florida Individual Artist Fellowship (2013), and the Master Artist of the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Award (2012). She was also the winner of the Outstanding Performance Prize at the Chinese National Zheng Competition in Shanghai in 1995. Both of her albums, Mountain, Water, Sentiments - Traditional Chinese Zheng Masterpieces Performance by Haiqiong Deng and Echoes of Strings - Classical Indian Music by Sitar and Zheng were nominated for the 13th Annual Independent Music Awards in the “World Traditional” Category in 2014.

 

As an internationally renowned zheng soloist and chamber musician, Deng has given numerous performances and lectures at concert halls, universities, museums, and festivals throughout the United States, Canada, China, Japan, and Singapore. Her discography ranges from solo and ensemble to concerto and cross-cultural works that have been released by Sony BMG, BIS, Delos International, Capstone Records, Tribal Record, and Celebrity Music. She is also the featured artist in the chapter on Chinese music in the widely used textbook World Music: Traditions and Transformations (McGraw-Hill, 2007), by Michael B. Bakan.

 

Deng received her Bachelor of Music from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Ethnomusicology from the Florida State University College of Music. She is currently the Director of the FSU Chinese Music Ensemble and a Ph.D. Candidate in Musicology at Florida State University.

 

Eric Hawkins, an Atlanta-based Horn player, is rapidly becoming a new face in the freelance orchestral and chamber scene. Hawkins frequently performs with ensembles such as The Atlanta Pops Orchestra, The Atlanta Opera Orchestra, The Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Serenbe Playhouse, and his woodwind quintet, Little 5 Winds. During his time in Atlanta, he has been able to collaborate and perform with high-profile artists and bands such as Hans Zimmer, Kansas, Chloë Agnew, Katie Deal, Secret Garden, and John Driskell Hopkins from Zac Brown Band. Recently, he recorded with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra Ensemble and bluegrass band Balsam Range for the band’s newest album Mountain Overture, released in April 2018. Hawkins is currently on the faculty at the University of West Georgia.

 

Jay Hunsberger was the Principal Tubist of the Sarasota Orchestra from 1987 through 2017. During this time he also served as Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of South Florida.

 

A hallmark of Hunsberger’s career was the substantial number of new works which were written for him. In 2003 he premiered Jan Bach’s Concerto for Tuba prompting one critic to write: “He is a virtuoso on an instrument that is too often misunderstood and underestimated. Hunsberger brings the tuba into the spotlight with elegance and dynamism and this is the perfect vehicle for his talents.” Other major premieres included David Carlson’s Tuba Concerto, Paul Basler’s Nocturne, and numerous works by Gwyneth Walker, Jan Bach, Francis Schwartz, William Brusick, and James Grant. Hunsberger’’s album, Oompah Suite, was released in February 2011 on the Summit label.

 

Ensemble personnel Rod Alnord, Jacob Barber, Katlyn Barbur, William Brown, Nick Bruno, AJ Cerrito, Grace Chang, Hayden Dumars, Tyler Evans, Nicolas Faivre, Michael Giunta, Adam Gould, Kaycie Howell, Trevor Hund, Derek Letsche, Lionel Martinez, Maria Petropoulos, Anand Rehsi, Nicolas Remy, Israel Rivera, Jazmine Rodriguez, Manuel Rosadilla, Jessyca Rose, Michael Skillern, Wes Sleeper, Kyle Spence, Michael Standard, Kyle Uber, Hannah Warner, and Yin Long.

 

Special thanks to John Z Stephan and the Springs Theatre Recording Studio, located in Tampa FL.

 

Other Ravello Recordings of the MPG you may enjoy

Kid Stuff: Soli For Piano With Percussion Orchestra (RR7977)

Marimba Concerti (RR7952)

Plot: Music For Unspecified Instrumentation (RR7916)

Between Rock & A Hard Place (RR7898)

Vanguards Vol. 2 (RR7902)

Soli For Soprano With Percussion (RR7884)

Concerti for Piano with Percussion Orchestra (RR7862)

Music for Keyboard Percussions (RR7804)

The Music of Gui Sook Lee (RR7810)

Concerti for Flute with Percussion Orchestra (RR7834)

Vanguards Vol. 1 (RR7892)

Photo: Austin S. Warren

Composer biographies

 

Tyler Kline is a composer, arranger, and audio engineer currently residing in Tampa FL. His music has been performed throughout North America and Europe as well as in Brazil and Taiwan. Recent compositions focus on the use of extended sounds/techniques in order to create timbral similarities or differences, as well as textures between instruments, voices, and/or electronics. Kline’s work is deeply influenced by the idea of Wabi-Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic and world view that values transience, imperfection, and impermanence. More broadly, his compositions draw influence from a variety of extra-musical sources, primarily literature. In addition to his work as a composer, Kline is also co-artistic director of Terroir New Music, an event series that combines the music of living composers with the work of local chefs and brewers. He is also a classical music radio announcer at WSMR, which is part of WUSF Public Media.

 

Taiwanese-American composer, Chihchun Chi-sun Lee’s works were described as “explor[ing] a variety of offbeat textures and unusual techniques” by Gramophone and “eastern techniques blended with sophisticated modern writing style” by “Amadeus” Il mensile della grande musica. Lee has received honors including winning the Brandenburg Symphony International Composition Competition in Germany, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Theodore Front Prize from IAWM, ISCM/ League of Composers Competition, and an International Festival of Women Composers Composition Prize. She has received commissions from Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, the Barlow Endowment, the Taiwan National Culture and Arts Foundation, Boston Symphony Orchestra, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan Philharmonic, National Orchestra of Korea, and Taiwan National Chinese Orchestra, just to name a few.  Her music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, and various international festivals and broadcasts worldwide. Please visit her website: www.chihchunlee.com

 

Michael Standard is a composer of acoustic and electronic music for the concert stage and digital media. Standard’s compositions seek a singular voice from explorations into expressions of human spirit, scientific exploration, contemplative practice, and communicative principles. Each work is formulated with its own identity while remaining conscientious of its social and artistic context. Standard organized a series of performances of his chamber work while living in Atlanta, including Beltline Aviary, a flute/percussion duet commissioned by Art on the Beltline and based on birdsongs common around the City of Atlanta. His work, mechanics to wit for piano and electronics, was selected for a performance at the 2018 Electroacoustic Barn Dance in Jacksonville FL, and his first brass quintet received its premiere at the 2018 Mostly Modern Festival by the Atlantic Brass Quintet. Standard has also studied percussion with Stuart Gerber and Charles Settle. He is active as a chamber musician and orchestral performer, and has performed with the Mostly Modern Orchestra and World Youth Wind Orchestra Project. Standard currently studies with Baljinder Sekhon and Robert McCormick while working towards a master’s degree in composition and percussion at the University of South Florida in Tampa as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

 

American composer Matthew Kennedy’s music is said to contain “disarming clarity and simplicity,” often seeking out dark places with “an uninhibited wonder and spirit of exploration.” His work has received critical acclaim including honors from ASCAP, BMI, Society of Composers Inc., Boston Musica Viva, Hartford Opera Theater, and he has had residencies at Marble House Project (VT), Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology (MI), Horned Dorset Artist Colony (NY), Taleamor Park (IN), and the Mayapple Center for the Arts and Humanities (CT). Recent activities for Kennedy include performances at New Music Gathering, North American Saxophone Alliance National Conferences, Northwestern University New Music Conference, M-Prize Competition, and commissions by Foot-in-the-Door Ensemble, Lotus Trio, and bassist Robert Black. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Music Theory and Composition at the University of South Florida and on the composition faculty at the Killington Music Festival.

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