BMAC presents percussion concert on Sept. 12
Percussionist Ayano Kataoka is coming to BMAC on Sept. 12.

BMAC presents percussion concert on Sept. 12

BRATTLEBORO — Acclaimed percussionist and marimbist Ayano Kataoka performs music by Vermont composer Stuart Saunders Smith at Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) on Friday, Sept. 12, at 7:30 p.m.

A discussion with the performer and composer follows.

Kataoka and cellist Yo-Yo Ma perfored last season at the American Museum of Natural History in a world premiere of Bruce Adolphe's “Self Comes to Mind” for cello and two percussionists, based on a text by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. The work featured interactive video images of brain scans triggered by the live music performance.

She performed Leon Kirchner's “Flutings for Paula” for flute and percussion with Paula Robison for Kirchner's 90th birthday concert at Miller Theater in New York and at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

A leading proponent of contemporary repertoire, Kataoka has participated in several consortiums to commission works for solo marimba or chamber ensemble from such composers as Charles Wuorinen, Martin Bresnick, Paul Lansky, and Alejandro Viñao.

She is particularly drawn to compositions involving the whole person, using standard percussion instruments and unique musical materials along with spoken voice, singing, acting, and elegant props.

A native of Japan, Kataoka began her marimba studies at age 5 and percussion at 15. She started her performing career as a marimbist with a tour of China at 9. She received degrees from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts Music, Peabody Conservatory, and Yale School of Music, where she studied with world-renowned marimba virtuoso Robert van Sice.

She was the first percussionist to be chosen for The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's Chamber Music Society Two, a three-season residency program for emerging artists offering high-profile performance opportunities in collaboration with The Chamber Music Society. Since 2008, Kataoka has served on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Smith, who lives in Sharon, has created a diverse and unusual body of musical and literary compositions. His music is usually chromatic, atonal, and rhythmically intricate, with his pitch material selected in an intuitive manner.

Many of his works are theatrical, asking the performers to speak, sing, act, and pantomime in addition to playing their instruments.

His music is recorded on O.O. Discs, Capstone Records, New World, and on European labels in Austria, France, and Germany.

Of his approach to composition, Smith has said he never uses pre-compositional engineering plans:

“I want a music which can contradict itself and go off on tangents. I am not interested in consistency. I am in search of magic, and like a magic trick, I want my hand to turn into a bird that flies away."

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