Chamber Music Series, Eko Nova Returns with Percussion


October 17th, 2017

Photo courtesy of Omaha Chamber Music Society 

Omaha, NE—“The music that I chose for this concert is a reflection of myself, for sure, and my background, which is which is diverse and involves world percussion—stuff outside of the classical realm,” said Derek Dreier, Composer and Assistant Principal Percussionist with the Omaha Symphony. “You’ll see a lot of different styles of music, a lot of different kinds of percussion on that night. It expands—goes a little bit beyond traditional chamber percussion quartet stuff.”

Next week’s Eko Nova concert at Kaneko, Step for Four: Rhythm in Motion, offers audiences an eclectic journey through musical styles and history, but not exactly in an arrangement that listeners might think of as typical chamber music. Inspired by Kaneko’s Kinetic exhibition, Step for Four is all about percussion and rhythm, spanning Afro Cuban drumming, jazz, electronic music and new music inspired by Prokofiev’s ballet.

“I think we’ve come up with a pretty unique program. I think percussion innately involves movement and is connected to movement not just as percussionists–who when we perform it’s a very physical thing so large gestures are naturally part of what we do–but also as a function of percussion historically [which] is something that accompanies dance. The folkloric stuff that we’re doing obviously is connected to that but also one of the main quartets that we’re doing, that the program is named after was inspired by some of the primitive ballets in that primitive movement of the early 20th century of Prokofiev and composers of that nature. That piece kind of reflects a sense of energy and motion and direction that I think when listening to, you’ll innately feel and respond to it as motion and movement.”

Step for Four examines percussion in different ways in that it presents both familiar and downright exotic instances of drumming. The folkloric Cuban piece, for example shows how a percussionist can manipulate the timbre of a very simple instrument by hand. Stranger pieces like “Left of the Dial” and “Long Distance” feature solo percussion accompanied by the sounds of radio transmissions and “phone phreaking,” a technique pioneered by early hackers using audible frequencies to exploit telephone systems of the 60s and 70s.

“What I am interested in when I perform is creating an experience that makes people wonder and feel and not be able to directly connect to, and I think percussion particularly has this kind of duality that in one sense it’s like, ‘that’s a drum and he’s making it sound, I know what that is and I could go over there and I can hit and I can make that sound,’ and then another sense is: ‘how did he just make that sound with that drum?’ So it has both of those, certainly in this performance you will experience both straight up hitting the drum, making a familiar sound and then extended techniques that create sounds that you wouldn’t understand how they were created. As a performer what I want to do is do something that is not necessarily relatable so that there’s some kind of disconnect there that allows you to as an audience member feel like you’re experiencing something unique in that it’s not doable by you that is almost like magic.”

Dreier also pays tribute jazz with his composition “Snap-Crackle,” inspired by jazz drummer Roy Haynes who is known for playing with Charlie Parker and Thelonius Monk.

“Despite what maybe seems foreign, it will be accessible and relatable still, and I think that’s an important component of kind of what we talked about with the Prokofiev and also the Afro-Cuban and really in all of this stuff, there’s an underlying aspect that connects all of it, namely being music. I mean, it’s percussion, but it’s music. It’s rhythm as melody, it’s rhythm as harmony, it’s rhythm as music, and also with that being said, a lot of the pieces that we do, only one of them has a keyboard instrument, so the majority of what you’re going to hear is drumming, but I don’t think you’ll walk away from this concert thinking that you just heard a bunch of boogada-boogada.”

Step for Four: Rhythm in Motion will show at the Kaneko on Monday, October 23rd at 7:00pm. For more information, including a complete lineup of performers and pieces, or tickets, visit



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