Robin Engelman Biography
I didn’t go to PASIC aka
My wife and I recently returned from a week in Paris and twoweeks in Germany. This was a vacation. One week in the City of Light , indeed one day, is enough to clear the head, balm for the soul. My posts “Parisian street scenes and “The Treaty of Paris” cover some of our experiences in Paris and “Halle, Handel, Bach . . .” describes our leisurely trip through parts of Germany. Our memorabilia.
I’ve just returned home from North Western University where I participated in a week long Symposium of Percussion organized by the irrepressible chair of the North Western percussion department Prof. She-e Wu. The symposium faculty consisted of some of the most influential names in performance and pedagogy. Chris Lamb, Principal percussion with the New York Philharmonic and Manhattan School and Royal Conservatory of Scotland teacher, Marc Damoulakis, percussionist with the Cleveland Orchestra,and DePaul University faculty member, James Ross, Chicago Symphony, Ed Soph, set drum player and teacher and a talented list of other prestigious names in the percussion world including Professor Wu. The 40 or more student, teacher enrollees were the beneficiaries of lessons with all the faculty. There were no double bookings of classes. All the students were able to attend all the sessions. The level of teaching and performance was of extraordinary quality and it was an honor for me to hear colleagues present percussion playing at such a high level. My part was a 2 1/2 hour presentation of a history of percussion instruments which begins in ancient Greece and progresses through the centuries to the last years of the U.S. Civil War and ends with video clips of some of the most famous field drummers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
I am continuing my searches into the arcane corners of drum history, notation, military art and music. My most recent article in this realm is a detailed history of three works closely associated with the French Revolution of 1790: “Le Carillon National”, “Ah! Ça Ira, Dictum populaire, Air du Carillon National”and “The Downfall of Paris”. This article has appeared in the Spring and Summer 2012 editions of “The Ancient Times” a publication devoted to fife and drum music, musicians and scholarship.
As well, I frequently write articles on whatever topic catches my fancy. Most recently I’ve written about the great pianists Vladimir Horowitz and Clara Haskil, the 2012 US Open Golf Tournament and posted an important article by E.L. Doctrow. As well, I wrote an homage to my Aunt Rose titled “Rose” an a flippant toss off called “A Ghost Story”. Other recent articles include “A Fulmination on Contemporary Politics” and “Hip Cactus”. I also coach and correspond with musicians around the world and accept commissions for percussion works.
On 12 November 2011, I hosted the first annual “Drummer’s Heritage Concert Event” at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Indianapolis, Indiana. My recent article “The Premier Drummers Heritage Event” reviews this presentation and has also be reprinted in the Spring 2012 “The Ancient Times”. Drummers Heritage Events are an outgrowth of the 2002 Drummer’s Heritage Concert given at the Columbus, Ohio PASIC for which I was Artistic Director.
Lance Pedigo, John C. Moon and the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums gave this first “Drummer’s Heritage Concert Event”. This and future Events are possible because of the generosity of the 220 field drummers, fifers and pipers who donated their 2002 concert performances and the subsequent proceeds from the sales of their “Historic Drummer’s Heritage Concert” DVD. For more information including how to order this DVD click on “Discography”.
I studied percussion and composition with Warren Benson at Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York. I taught percussion at Ithaca College, the Eastman School of Music Preparatory Department and York University, Toronto. My long relationship with Nexus as a founding member led to my induction into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame and to receiving the Toronto Arts Award and the Banff School of Fine Arts Donald Cameron Medal.
Nexus was formed in the early part of the 1970s by six percussionists and remains today a hallmark name in percussion and contemporary music. Nexus toured the world after its career was launched with the help of Professor Warren Benson and propelled to international recognition by its association with Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu who arranged tours of Japan and wrote a major work for percussion and symphony orchestra, From me flows what you call Time, a work which Nexus performed close to 100 times with major orchestras and conductors world wide.
Nexus has championed the works of American composer Steve Reich, Canadian composer Bruce Mather, Japanese composer Jo Kondo as well has commissioned works by other international composers. Nexus writes a substantial amount of its concert repertoire and gives clinics, workshops and master classes for many of the major universities in North America, Great Britain and Europe. Nexus was the first western percussion ensemble to perform in the People’s Republic of China. Visit my Discography page for information about Nexus recordings.
There have been three personnel changes during its forty year history and to read about its present make up, see http://www.nexuspercussion.com.
My career as a percussionist began with the Meyer’s Meat Market Band of Westminster, Maryland and after college in the North Carolina Symphony the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic. In 1968 I became principal percussionist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa and later, Karel Ancerl. During the 1980′s and 90′s,I was principal percussionist with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra. For more than fifteen years I performed with New Music Concerts of Toronto. whose concerts featured the works of prominent international contemporary composers who supervised the preparation of their music.
I’ve conducted contemporary music for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, New Music Concerts, Array and The Art of Time Ensemble. For more than twenty years I conducted and directed the Percussion Ensemble of the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. The ensemble released the CD Rondino featuring Bob Becker playing the solo drum part in his composition “Mudra” and contains music by John Cage, Terry Hulick, Jo Kondo and John Beckwith. To order Rondino, see Discography.