Text by Matthew Keown
As a native Oregonian, the premiere of Chris Theofanidis’s concerto Drum Circles was especially meaningful for me. My life thus far neatly parses into two periods; my time in Oregon, and my time on the East Coast. As a young musician, I grew up admiring the fine musicians of the Oregon Symphony, but never did I imagine I would be standing in front of that orchestra as a soloist. For the first time, I felt these two periods of my life unite. This opportunity is truly a testament to The Percussion Collective. Professor van Sice and the fine members of this organization have opened doors for us that we would never have been able to do as individuals. I left this trip to Portland feeling overwhelmingly grateful and lucky to be surrounded by such incredible colleagues, friends, mentors, and teachers.
The experience of bringing Drum Circles to life was mesmerizing. When we heard the midi upon the completion of the score some months before, we knew that this would be a wonderful project, but I had no clue how great of a piece we actually had on our hands! Chris was in the hall for every rehearsal and would return the next day with small changes in orchestration that would inevitably enhance what I already thought was incredible. Chris’s ear and mind just are just simply of a different echelon! My respect, admiration, and thanks go out to the fine musicians of The Collective and the Oregon Symphony for premiering this work as if it was seasoned repertoire from years past.