Temporal Mechanics Union
Temporal Mechanics Union, the percussion ensemble resident at Cowley College, will present Migrations, a newly commissioned work by Todd Harper of St. Paul, Minnesota, in concert Thursday, December 8, at 7:30 PM. The concert will be held in the Brown Center Theatre on the college’s Arkansas City campus. Admission is free. “Migrations is about the paths and cycles we move through in life,” said Chris Mayer, musical director of the Temporal Mechanics Union.
“We all go through a kind of spiral path, in which we return to things over and over again, even as we grow and change and have new experiences.” To capture this idea, Harper has the performers move through a series of stations. These stations are collections of various percussion instruments, or materials such as water and stones. At each station, the performers improvise freely to express the main musical theme. The players each have a signature “traveling rhythm” they play on small, handheld instruments as they move from station to station. At the heart of the composition is a marimba solo, played by guest artist Garrett Ward. “These passages provide the foundation, the stability around which everything else moves,” said Mayer. “Garrett’s virtuosity and concentration are amazing. Without him, this piece wouldn’t work.”
The program will feature solo performances by Ward and Harper. Also on the program are Zingaro by famed Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, Connection from Seven Days by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Marche by Mayer. The story behind Migrations began in late 2003, when Harper composed Bass Drum Dance for the Temporal Mechanics Union. That piece was debuted at the group’s April 2004 concert. Shortly thereafter, Mayer called upon Harper to compose a long-form, showcase work, and Ward was brought on as the soloist. In December 2004, the three met in Lawrence, Kansas, to brainstorm ideas for the new composition.
Harper was in residence at Cowley in April 2005, to lay the groundwork for Migrations, and both Harper and Ward came to Cowley last August for rehearsals, workshops and a concert. For over 20 years, Todd Harper has led ensembles that have combined atypical jazz, world and folkloric elements. He also composes in a distinctive vocal style he calls “jazz lieder.” Harper co-sponsors that annual Keys Please piano concert in St. Paul, and is very active in many aspects of that city’s new music scene. Soloist Garrett Ward is originally from Salina, Kansas, and now makes his home in New Jersey. He performs regularly with the Hunterdon Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic and the South Orange Symphony. He received both his BA and MA in music education from Wichita State University. In addition to performing, Ward teaches music in the Bayonne, New Jersey parochial school system.
Temporal Mechanics Union is a community based, all-ability ensemble. Anyone may join, no matter his or her musical skill or experience. There is no audition. Current members of the ensemble are Tim Badley, Mike Fell, Aaron Fox, Mark Jarvis, Chansi Long, Bryan McChesney, Rebecca McGary, and Ashley Snyder.