• Joan Tower
  • DNA (2003)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 5perc
  • 9 min

Programme Note

Bard Conservatory Percussion Concert
Note:

Bradford and Dorothea Endicott commissioned the ten-minute work DNA for Frank Epstein and the NEC Percussion Ensemble.

The premiere performance took place on April 13, 2003 in Jordon Hall, at the New England Conservatory. Frank Epstein subsequently took the piece for performances to the Tanglewood Festival in July/August of 2003.

DNA is written for percussion quintet as a way of capitalizing on the notion of DNA, and its role as the building block of all biological life. Deoxyribonucleic acid, as we know it chemically, is an elegant form, made up of double helixes and double strands in an endless spiraling ribbon. Using this feature as a starting point - the piece is built around pairs of instruments which are featured prominently throughout: high-hats, castanets, timbales, and snares appear in duos — and like the base pairs of DNA — conspire to make a whole work.

The fifth percussionist is primarily a soloist, an outsider to the pairs — playing on temple blocks, tambourine and congas — until he joins them in passages of trios, quartets and quintets.

Joan uses the basic concept of DNA in teaching all the time, when she is urging her students to find the "DNA," or building blocks of an idea for themselves.

DNA is dedicated to Frank Epstein, who is a percussionist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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