Release Date: October 9, 2015
Catalog #: RR7916
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century

Plot: Music For Unspecified Instrumentation

McCormick Percussion Group | Robert McCormick director

Stuart Saunders Smith composer
Robert Erickson composer
Johanna Magdalena Beyer composer
James Tenney composer
Herbert Brün composer
Earle Brown composer

On their seventh Ravello Records release, PLOT: MUSIC FOR UNSPECIFIED INSTRUMENTATION, the McCormick Percussion Group, directed by Robert McCormick, delivers a diverse collection of works that explore and expand the bounds of the percussion ensemble, featuring the use of improvisation, taped field recordings, and computer-generated graphical scores.

Bones (2000), the opening piece by Stuart Saunders Smith, examines the existence between composed musical thoughts and improvisational interactions. With only the parts and no score, the musicians choose the order of the pages and improvise the musical events presented. Nine and a Half for Henry (and Wilbur and Orville) (1964) and Pacific Sirens (1969) by Robert Erickson can be considered companion pieces, both involving taped sounds – including engines, machinery, and the Pacific surf – and acoustic instrumentation.

Percussion (1935) is the second of eight known percussion ensemble works composed by Johanna Magdalena Beyer (1888-1944). The fourth movement was Beyer’s only composition to be published during her lifetime, and until recently, was misunderstood as a complete and freestanding composition. These pioneering works consistently demonstrate clear structural design, economical use of material, and confident originality. Plot, composed by Herbert Brün for solo percussion, is praised for its innovative use of computer-generated graphical score, which is not intended to be improvised. Rather, the performer creates a well-crafted interpretation through the analysis of a coordinate system that influences choices regarding instrument and implement selections, timbre, and connectivity of sounds. The adventurous programs that the McCormick Percussion Group tirelessly and effectively offer show them as one of today’s leading percussion ensembles, dedicated to pushing the repertoire and seeking the new and unknown.


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Artist Information

McCormick Percussion Group


The McCormick Percussion Group is recognized by critics and composers throughout the world for their unique recordings and interpretations of music decidedly outside of the mainstream. MPG often collaborates with other non-percussion musicians to explore and develop new trends of compositional thought. Among the most recorded ensembles of the genre, MPG has recorded many award winning albums for Ravello Records (dist. by Naxos). To ensure the original intent of each work, composers are often invited to rehearse with the ensemble and supervise recording sessions. Under the direction of Robert McCormick, MPG is a resident ensemble at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Robert McCormick


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.