Music For Two Marimbas

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Taktus kick off East Coast tour with a performance in Fredericton this Thursday.

e63425_bc685df7c7b844a296b6054451a01833-mv2_d_6384_9605_s_4_2The Toronto marimba duo Taktus are heading to the East Coast this week for a series of performances throughout New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Since forming in 2010, Greg Harrison and Jonny Smith have been challenging many of the conventions associated with classical music through a repertoire that combines minimalism with jazz and electro influences.

Last year the duo released their debut album, Glass Houses for Marimba, a six track exploration of work by Canadian minimalist composer Ann Southam. The project found its initial footing while Harrison was Musician in Residence at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

“I was looking for some music to arrange and pulled some of Ann Southam’s minimalist works out of the Canadian Music Centre catalogue,” said Harrison. “Those pieces were originally written for piano so I basically chopped the hands into two players.”

The recording, released digitally and on vinyl, has received critical acclaim and earned the #9 spot on CBC’s Top 10 Classical Albums of 2015.

While Southam’s work has been the cornerstone of Taktus performances over the past few years, the duo are now searching for new works to arrange as they look towards planning and recording new material.

“We’ve just recently moved beyond Ann Southam’s work and have started arranging new works that were either originally composed for piano or organ,” said Harrison. “We’re doing a selection of Aphex Twin compositions that we’ve arranged which is a bit bold in some regard, but some of the pieces were written for a prepared piano so they translate well.”

On this current tour, Taktus will also be playing work by Southam and Philip Glass, blending traditional sounds with triggered effects and ‘prepared instruments’, a process that involves creative modifications to standard instruments in order to achieve new and unique sounds.

“For some of the prepared piano pieces, we’ve been experimenting by preparing a marimba,” said Harrison. “We tried things like sticking a snare from a snare drum on one of the bars of the marimba and have wrapped aluminum foil on others to create a buzz or different effect. We have a lot of fun experimenting with that.  I’ve tape a shaker to a mallet for one piece and it adds this rhythmic undertone that works really well.  A lot of the fun with arranging new music comes from just experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.”

While some listeners believe Taktus exist strictly in the classical realm, others may argue their place on the fringes, somewhere between avant-garde and pop. And it’s this genre defying approach that has helped make these ‘two guys with marimbas’ one of the most important Canadian contemporary duos performing today.

“As far as what you can expect musically, it’s all pretty upbeat and in-your-face stuff,” said Harrison. “It’s not like your typical classical performance. There’s more of a contemporary vibe to it and all the stuff is pretty accessible.”

Taktus Marimba Duo | September 22, 2016 | Memorial Hall, UNB (Fredericton) | 7:30 p.m. | $10 – $5 kids | View Event

Tour Dates:

  • September 22 | Memorial Hall | Fredericton, NB
  • September 23 | University de Moncton | Moncton, NB
  • September 24 | Interaction School – OPEN Arts | Saint John, NB
  • September 27 | 1313 Hollis | Halifax, NS
  • September 28 | KC Irving Centre | Acadia University | Wolfville, NS
  • September 30 | St. Paul’s Church | Charlottetown, PEI
  • October 1 | Lunenburg School of Arts | Lunenburg, NS
  • October 3 | Cecilia’s Retreat | Mahone Bay, NS 

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