Bill Shaltis serves as Consortium Instructor of Percussion at the University of Evansville; Principal Timpani for Boise Philharmonic Orchestra; Principal Percussion for Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra; and Principal Percussion for Owensboro Symphony Orchestra. He shares with us his inisights on next weekend’s performance of "Raise the Roof".
EPO: What does it mean to you to be able to perform this work?
BILL: I’m very excited for the opportunity to share this exciting and enthralling work with the community. Michael has written a tour-de-force that is as much fun to play as it is to listen to.
What three adjectives would you use to describe the piece?
exciting, powerful, groovy
What should audience members listen for as they’re experiencing the piece?
In this first part, the audience will be able to hear that the timpani is an instrument capable of expression and nuance, which aren’t necessarily words one uses to describe the instrument. In the second part, the audience will hear the incredible variety of sounds and colors that the instrument can produce, as Michael has written for unusual mallets to be used, including wire brushes and maraca mallets!
How will the work make audience members feel? What emotions will be evoked?
The work is written with incredible energy and groove – two features that are prominently featured in a number of Daugherty’s works. By the end, the audience should be as exhausted as I will be!
What do you hope audience members will take away with them once it is over?
That when carefully considered in the hands of a expert composer, the timpani is an instrument that can evoke extremes of nuance and color. Of course it can be powerful and forceful, but it can also be sensitive and gentle as well.
You will be performing in the presence of the composer who crafted the work – does that add any pressure?
Of course! I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am going to be a bit nervous playing for Michael — but I think that that nervous energy will translate into an energizing performance!
How rare is it to get the opportunity to perform a piece in front of the person who composed it?
That depends…if a composer is local or the work is brand new (like a world premiere), it’s not uncommon for the composer to be present. In this case, the work was composed in 2004 and has been performed around the world by many other orchestras, so it is much rarer for the composer to be in attendance, especially somebody of Michael’s stature.
Why is it important for people to experience this work, on this night, when the composer is in the house?
Beyond the fact that timpani concerti are rare (especially when compared to the catalogue of violinists or pianists!), I think it is important for audiences to experience music from a living composer. It shows that an orchestra is a living, breathing, and relevant artistic medium, rather than just a museum housing the works of Beethoven, Mozart, and Haydn. A contemporary audience will understand Daugherty’s music because we understand rock ‘n’ roll, as well as the wonderful sounds created in movie soundtracks that seem to add the perfect amount of drama, tension, and release. I feel that both of these qualities are an integral part of Daugherty’s writing and orchestration.
Anything else you’d like to tell the public about this concert?
To have fun!