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'It's About Time' Festival Brings Percussion To The Forefront

Steven Schick is pictured at a rehearsal for the 2018 "It's About Time" festival.
Courtesy of San Diego Symphony
Steven Schick is pictured at a rehearsal for the 2018 "It's About Time" festival.

'It's About Time' Festival Brings Percussion To The Forefront
'It's About Time' Festival Brings Percussion To The Forefront GUEST:Steven Schick, festival curator, "It's About Time: A Festival of Rhythm. Sound. And Place."

>>> This is "KPBS Midday Edition" and Diane Maureen Cavanaugh . Percussion instruments are believed to be the first kinds of musical instruments ever invented. But these days percussion instruments often take a backseat, literally, in musical performances. "It's About Time: A Festival of Rhythm, Sound. and Place" is changing that. The month-long festival, presented by the San Diego Symphony, includes 12 different arts organizations putting on a total of 25 performances, installations, conversations and encounters that put percussion instruments in the spotlight. joining me now is Festival curator Steven Schick, renowned percussionist, UC San Diego music professor and the music director and conductor of the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra. When people think of percussion, they often think of drums but there's a wide range by tell us about some of the insurance. >> You are absolutely right; the drums is at the center of the percussionist's universe but you can also scrape or rub or brush different percussion instruments . you can also bow them by if you combine them with instruments such as the marimba and xylophone that have pitch, you have an enormous range of percussion sounds. >> You have made this the focus of your career. Why were you drawn to percussion? >> They were drawn to me, I think. When you ask musicians what instruments -- how they decided on an instrument, it's an interesting story. In this particular choice, my mother chose for me because the school said if you play the drums, you only have to buy the sticks in my mother was very frugal. Little did she know, she would eventually have a son with 1000 instruments in his studio. She signed me up for a world drowning in instruments but I started because she thought she wouldn't have to buy one. >> Most people would probably think of rock or jazz as percussive, beat music, not classical music. Would they be wrong? >> I don't think people are wrong to think of percussion as the heart beat or backbone of a jazz ensemble or rock but it does many things . in classical music, percussion has been extremely important in the development of the orchestra pair the orchestra became an orchestra once it got a percussionist. >> I know they want to appeal to a wide range of people by how do you do that? >> This is a fundamental challenge of any musician, to get out from behind the cloistered walls of the concert hall, and provide an interface, so that anyone can find a place in music by we have done that in the context of the festival by with my partner, the indomitable Martha Gilmer of the San Diego Symphony, we have really brought, at least half of these performances out of the concert hall, and into community spaces by that's one way that we do that by the second way with percussionist to play percussion in a way that seems obvious, that everyone can understand it, and give the understanding that everyone is already listening to percussion and playing percussion every day and there's a -- in their lives. >> You are focusing on a wide range of musical styles and is Festival program >> S, we have many different -- Festival program. >> We have many different ones by we have these percussion love fest . we have a fresh sound every Thursday which consists of local percussionists in all kinds of genres, jazz, rock, Persian drum, euphoria brass, percussion and all of its guises and all by local news editions by that's a real favorite of mine. Student one of the performances involves musicians on both sides of the mortar. -- Both sides of the order. >> A piece, in the realm of the human, it's for between 9 and 99 percussionist. If that sounds frightening, it was also a wedding gift for my wife Brenda and me. I'm not sure what that says about our wedding but our life is full of percussion. [ Laughter ] The first binational performance on the Mexican border, what we are doing this year, and extraordinary project, half of the ensemble will be on the south side of the border by the other half will be on the north side of the border at the international friendship Arden. We won't really be able to see each other but the fence is permeable so we will be able to hear each other. We will play the piece on both sides of the border. The sound will do what we wanted to do which is to connect people. >> Here is a clip from that. >> [ Sound of Drums ] >> What is it like to curate the festival, considering it involves 12 different performing arts organizations? >> Yes, but when you add our individual partners, individual artists on both of the border, we are above 20 five with 25 events over the course of a month, we are approaching almost any event . day -- any event each day. It's a passion. I have lived in San Diego for 27 years by I love this place. I love the way it sounds. I love the way people interact. This has the greatest biodiversity in the continental United States. It has the greatest cultural diversity anyone could imagine. One of the questions that Martha and I asked ourselves is, what is a musical version of that. The only way you can present that richness in music is having that many venues in this many points of access for people. I think this is, I know this is, a love letter on behalf of Martha and me to the city of San Diego by we are doing is in musical form. >>"It's About Time: A Festival of Rhythm, Sound. and Place" is Going on all month long and I have been speaking with Festival curator, Steven Schick. You for coming .

Percussion instruments are believed to be the first kinds of musical instruments ever invented.

But these days percussion instruments often take a backseat, literally — in musical performances.

"It's About Time: A Festival of Rhythm. Sound. And Place." is changing that. The month-long festival, presented by the San Diego Symphony, includes 12 different arts organizations putting on a total of 25 performances, installations, conversations and encounters that put percussion instruments in the spotlight.

The festival runs through Feb. 11.

The festival is curated by Steven Schick, renowned percussionist, UC San Diego music professor and the music director and conductor of the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra.

Schick joins Midday Edition Tuesday to discuss the festival.

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